Reward Offered for Information on Suspected Arson Fires in Glacier Park

Authorities say eight fire sites in North Fork have been identified, including one that destroyed historic cabin; fires may be connected to two others set outside park boundaries

By Andy Viano
The remnants of the Ford Creek cabin, which was destroyed in a suspected arson fire on July 23, 2020. Photo courtesy of Glacier National Park

The North Fork Landowners Association is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information that could help authorities determine who started a series of fires inside Glacier National Park last week, including one blaze that destroyed a historic cabin near Polebridge.

Glacier National Park officials say the fires are still under investigation but arson is suspected. They were identified at eight different sites between Logging Creek and Kintla Lake along Inner North Fork Road on Thursday, July 23, and while most of the fires started in dry logs or brush, one wiped out the historic Ford Creek cabin, which is used by park rangers for winter backcountry patrols.

The cabin was built in 1928 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The cabin site is approximately eight miles north of Polebridge. A photo provided by Glacier Park shows only a handful of charred logs remaining where the cabin once stood.

A local resident first reported the fires by waking up park rangers at the Polebridge Ranger Station in the early hours of July 23. A short while later, a report from the Numa Ridge fire lookout indicated smoke could be seen in the Ford Creek area. The fires triggered a multi-agency response from wildland fire crews, hotshot crews, engine crews, and state and local law enforcement.

Authorities investigating the North Fork incidents are also probing whether or not two other fires started on July 22 are connected. That evening, suspicious fires were reported at Glacier Gateway Elementary School in Columbia Falls and at the Summit Mountain Lodge near Marias Pass.

Anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity on the night of July 22 or the morning of July 23 is asked to call Flathead Crimestoppers at (406) 752-8477. All calls will remain anonymous. Those wishing to talk to a park ranger can call a Glacier National Park tipline at (406) 888-7077.

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.