Updated: July 26, 9 p.m.
WEST GLACIER – Areas in Glacier National Park that have been closed because of a massive wildfire near St. Mary will be reopening this week, although it is unclear how long the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road will remain closed.
Officials with Glacier Park hosted a public meeting in West Glacier on Sunday evening on a day when fire crews made significant progress battling the Reynold Creek Fire that started last week. Officials with the incident did not report any new growth of the fire on Sunday. The blaze, which is burning along the north shore of St. Mary Lake in rocky, rugged terrain, remains listed at 3,158 acres. It is 20 percent contained.
Recent rains have subdued the fire, but it still possesses potential for activity if drier weather conditions return, according to fire officials. Forecasters have said a cold, wet weather system would hit the region Sunday and Monday with possible snow in the higher elevations of Glacier Park.
»»» Click here to view a map of the fire.
Crews on Sunday conducted aggressive direct attack and continued structure protection in the Going-to-the-Sun Road area affected by fire activity. Firefighters built containment line next to the fire’s edge and were supported by water drops from helicopters. Since the beginning of the fire, helicopters have dropped more than 1 million gallons of water on the blaze.
Above the Sun Road on the east side, explosives were used to build a 4,000-foot fire line in an avalanche chute with heavy brush and downed logs, according to officials. Firefighters continue dropping snags and clearing debris near the Sun Road in areas affected by the fire.
At the public meeting Sunday night, Superintendent Jeff Mow said the Going-to-the-Sun Road “will reopen when it is safe.” However, he did announce that the St. Mary Visitors Center will reopen on Monday and the campground there would reopen on Wednesday. The Sun Road will be open to Logan Pass again starting Wednesday. The Rising Sun Campground and Rising Sun Motor Inn will remain closed for the forseeable future. Mow said it is possible that some trails in the fire area will not reopen this year.
On Sunday morning, the mandatory evacuation along the west shore of Lower St. Mary Lake was downgraded to a Level 2 “warning.” The Level 2 status of the east side of lower St. Mary Lake will be downgraded to Level 3 “advisory.” The town site of St. Mary will continue to remain at a Level 3.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for National Park Service employee housing and administrative areas.
A vast portion the park remains open with favorable weather conditions.
A fire information meeting is planned for 6 p.m., Sunday at the West Glacier Community Building in West Glacier. A fire information hotline has been established at 406-732-7791.
The incident has cost $2.9 million, according to fire officials. There are 650 personnel and seven aircraft assigned to the incident. The cause remains under investigation.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.