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—Howe Ridge Fire was actively burning late Wednesday
—Flames visable from Camas Road on west side of park
—Fire has burned 12,857 acres in Glacier Park
Updated: Sept. 5, 5 p.m.
As temperatures continue to rise across Northwest Montana, the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park was actively burning near the Inside North Fork Road on Wednesday.
A large smoke plume could be seen emerging from the southwest side of the fire early Wednesday afternoon and flames were visible from the Camas Road. Sonja Hartmann, a public information officer for the Type 1 incident management team that is coordinating firefighting efforts in Glacier, said the fire was burning in thick underbrush and fallen timber, remnants from the Robert Fire in 2003.
“This was expected,” she said.
As of Wednesday, the Howe Ridge Fire had burned 12,857 acres and was 15 percent contained. Firefighters have been setting back burns in recent days along the Inside North Fork Road to use it as a fire break and prevent it from moving west or south toward the evacuated Fish Creek Campground.
Hartmann said temperatures in the high 70s are expected later this week and that additional fire activity was possible.
On the north end of the fire, firefighters have been protecting a number of structures and even the iconic old growth trees along the Trail of the Cedars at Avalanche. A sprinkler system was set up along the trail to protect the boardwalk and increase the humidity in the area to slow the fire should it reach Avalanche. Fire officials said the cedars have a very shallow root system and if they did burn they would easily blow over in a wind storm, which is why they are taking extra precautions to protect them. Some of the trees have even been wrapped in plastic so that water from the nearby sprinkler system does not blow off the bark.
A number of other fires continue to smolder across Northwest Montana, although none of them have grown significantly in recent days. As of Tuesday morning, the Paola Ridge Fire near Essex has burned 776 acres and is 45 percent contained; the Coal Ridge Fire near Polebridge is 280 acres and 62 percent contained; the Whale Butte Fire is 515 acres and 78 percent contained; the Gold Hill Fire near Libby is 4,180 acres and 15 percent contained; the Davis Fire north of Yaak is 6,614 acres and 30 percent contained; and the Rattlesnake Fire northeast of Hot Springs is 1,374 acres and 58 percent contained.
This story will be updated when additional information becomes available.