—Howe Ridge Fire grows to 13,037 acres
—Sun Road tours start Friday
—Fire costs $9.8 million to surpress
Updated: Sept. 6, 1:15 p.m.
The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park grew to 13,037 acres on Wednesday as warm temperatures dried out vegetation around the blaze.
The fire is one of nearly a dozen currently smoldering in Northwest Montana and the largest burning in Glacier National Park.
Firefighters said yesterday’s growth was expected and that the fire will remain active into the weekend as temperatures rise to the high 70s and low 80s. Firefighters have been setting back burns from the Inside North Fork Road when conditions are favorable to remove fuel and make sure the fire does not cross the makeshift fire break.
Today, firefighters are also moving some firefighting equipment off the Going-to-the-Sun Road to prepare for limited public shuttle tours that will begin Friday. Shuttles are operating between Apgar and Logan Pass but are not making any stops on the west side of the park.
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 windstorm, 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.
As of Sept. 6, the Howe Ridge Fire has cost $9.8 million to suppress. More than 190 firefighters are currently assigned to the blaze.
Firefighters near the Canadian border have made significant progress toward containing the 1,709-acre Boundary Fire. Firefighters have been digging line and dropping water from helicopters to prevent the blaze from crossing into Canada and Waterton Lakes National Park. As of Thursday, the fire was 12 percent contained.
A number of other fires continue to smolder across Northwest Montana, although none of them have grown significantly in recent days. As of Thursday, 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 83 percent contained; the Brownstone Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is 2,200 acres; the Juliet Fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness is 900 acres; the Gold Hill Fire near Libby is 4,400 acres and 15 percent contained; the Sterling Complex Fire east of Lake Koocanusa is 1,405 acres and 83 percent contained; the Davis Fire north of Yaak is 6,614 acres and 35 percent contained; and the Rattlesnake Fire northeast of Hot Springs is 1,374 acres and 64 percent contained.
This story will be updated when additional information becomes available.