Updated 9:30 p.m.
A wildfire in Glacier National Park grew from a 2-acre burn to a 1,000-acre monster in just five hours on Tuesday evening as park rangers evacuated multiple sites near St. Mary and searched for backcountry hikers.
The Reynolds Creek Fire has closed a vast portion of the Going-to-the-Sun Road and forced the evacuation of the Rising Sun Campground and Rising Sun Motor Inn, according to park spokesperson Denise Germann.
A Type II Management team was being organized on Tuesday evening and resources from across the region were being brought in to battle a blaze that has “extreme spread potential.”
The fire was first reported by shuttle bus drivers at 3:45 p.m. near Grizzly Point, about 6 miles east of Logan Pass. The fire is currently burning in heavy timber.
The Going-to-the-Sun Road is now closed from Avalanche to St. Mary. All trails off the Sun Road have been closed. The parking lots at St. Mary and Apgar have been established as gathering areas for park visitors that may have been separated from others in their party.
Xanterra’s Glacier National Park Lodges General Manager Marc Ducharme said that all of the Motor Inn employees were evacuated from the east side and were staying at a tent camp in Coram until further notice. He said before employees arrived at about 8 p.m., officials from Xanterra went to local stores to purchase tents, sleeping bags and any other items the employees may need. He said it’s unclear how long the Motor Inn will be closed.
All interpretive programs at St. Mary have been canceled and a temporary flight restriction has been put in place over the park.
A fire information phone line has been established at (406) 732-7791.
The National Weather Service in Missoula was forecasting sustained winds of 10 to 15 miles per hour near Logan Pass with gusts up to 24 miles per hour throughout the evening.
It’s unknown what caused the fire.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.