News & Features

Thompson Fire Blows Up in Glacier Park, Burns More Than 11,000 Acres

The fire has forced the closure of the Nyack and Coal Creek areas

Updated Aug. 11, 8:30 p.m.

The Thompson Fire in Glacier National Park blew up on Tuesday afternoon, growing from a 1,900-acre burn to an 11,400-acre monster in just one day.

On Tuesday, the plume of smoke could be seen from downtown Kalispell and East Glacier Park. Hot and dry conditions are expected to last the rest of the week and could mean the fire would likely continue to grow.

“Today’s weather means there is a lot of growth potential,” said park spokesperson Katie Liming.

Liming said that two helicopters were dropping water on the fire and that more air support was on the way. Firefighters have not been sent in to fight the fire because of the rugged and rough terrain it is burning in. A Type II incident management team has been ordered to oversee management of the blaze.

On Tuesday evening, the National Park Service announced that it would only permit campfires in designated “front country” campgrounds, including Apgar, Avalanche, Bowman Lake, Cut Bank, Fish Creek, Kintla Lake, Logging Creek, Many Glacier, Quartz Lake, Sprague Creek, St. Mary and Two Medicine. Only liquid petroleum or LPG-fueled stoves, lanterns or heating devices will be allowed in backcountry. 

“The park is experiencing extreme fire conditions and to help reduce the risk of fire, we are implementing fire restrictions for our back country campgrounds and recreation sites.” said Superintendent Jeff Mow. “The back country restrictions will help to protect public and employee safety, as well as protect park resources and facilities.”   

At least two structures, the Upper and Lower Nyack Backcountry Patrol Cabins, are threatened by the blaze and firefighters went in this week to wrap one cabin in hopes of saving it.

The fire has forced the closure of the Nyack and Coal Creek areas, including numerous trails and backcountry campgrounds. On Sunday, a father and son from Whitefish were airlifted out of the area.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The Thompson Fire is one of two major fires burning inside Glacier National Park. The Reynolds Creek Fire has burned more than 4,000 acres of land on the east side of the park since late July. As of this week it is 67 percent contained.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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