Yellowstone's Arnica Fire closes road

Posted 10/1/09

The lightning-caused fire burning on Arnica Creek is estimated at 9,300 acres and is burning parallel to one and one-half miles of the road.

On Monday afternoon it was warm, but cold, wet weather is expected starting today (Tuesday), with …

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Yellowstone's Arnica Fire closes road


{gallery}09_29_09/yellowstone{/gallery}Tourists pause to snap photographs of the Arnica Fire's colorful smoke during Thursday evening's sunset. The lightning-caused fire, five miles west of Bay Bridge in Yellowstone National Park, grew considerably over the weekend. Tribune photo by Tessa Schweigert North Fork and Teton blazes growThe Arnica Fire, southwest of Yellowstone Lake Village, has closed the road from Bridge Bay to West Thumb in Yellowstone National Park. That includes most of the highway from Fishing Bridge Junction south to West Thumb, although travelers can still reach the Lake area.No facilities are closed at this time, with the exception of Bridge Bay Marina to private boat launching. Private boats can embark at Grant Village.

The lightning-caused fire burning on Arnica Creek is estimated at 9,300 acres and is burning parallel to one and one-half miles of the road.

On Monday afternoon it was warm, but cold, wet weather is expected starting today (Tuesday), with temperatures taking a dramatic, winter-like shift Wednesday, said Stacy Vallie, Yellowstone Park spokesperson.

On Wednesday, the highs are anticipated in the 30s, with lows around 18 degrees with snow and scattered showers, Vallie said.

“At least it (the fire) will lay down considerably so we can get that road open,” Vallie said.

And keep it open, she added.

The anticipated wet weather won't douse the flames fully, but it will allow crews to flank the fire near the road, Vallie said.

The Park Service said the probable start date was Sept. 23. Currently, 230 personnel are assigned to the fire. Helicopters are dropping water west of Bridge Bay to slow the spread of fire toward the marina. There is structure protection in the Lake area, using irrigation and fire engines, said park news release.

“We are managing it according to our management policy,” Vallie said.

The fire will be allowed to burn in remote areas to remove dead timber, mostly lodgepole pine. However, the fire will be managed in locations near developments to protect people and property.

Due to road closures, Vallie encourages visitors to plan ahead before entering Yellowstone.

The road between Norris and Madison is closed due to road construction.

For up-to-date information, go to or For 24-hour road information, call 307-344-2117, or fire information at 307-344-2580.

Castle Fire expands a bit

“It grew yesterday,” said Clint Dawson, zone fire manager for Shoshone National Forest, of the Castle Fire in the Crow Creek drainage. The blaze is burning roughly between Pahaska Tepee and the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park in the North Absaroka Wilderness.

The fire was reported Sept. 22. On Sept. 24, it was estimated at one acre.

Dawson said it was up to 50 acres on Monday.

Fuel reductions are taking place around the barns at Pahaska, but the fire is moving northeast of the lodge.

“It's doing as we thought this fire would do,” Dawson said. “It's moving to the north and east.”

At this time, Dawson said the fire poses no threat to any structures on the North Fork.

An eight-person, type-3 light helicopter is on the scene, along with 15 firefighters.

The Crow Creek trail currently remains open, Dawson said.

He added that it's a little strange for three forest fires to be burning this late in the season.

But, in the last month, in the area of the fire, only one-third of an inch of precipitation has fallen.

“It's dry,” Dawson said.

Bearpaw smoking Tetons

As of Saturday, the Bearpaw Fire, two miles northeast of North Jenny Lake Junction on the Teton Park Road was at 1,500 acres. By Monday, it had increased to 2,840 acres, according to the Teton Interagency Fire Information Web site.

The lightning-caused fire, reported Sept. 2, is being managed for resource benefit, but firefighters are suppressing the southeast flank, said a Saturday news release from the Teton National Park Service.

There are 94 Teton National Park and Teton Interagency fire personnel on the fire plus a Type 1 and Type 2 crew and a helicopter capable of hauling 700 gallon water buckets, said Jackie Skaggs Teton Park public affairs officer.

“The east shore trail along Leigh Lake is closed due to the proximity of the fire, as are several back-country campsites on Leigh, Bearpaw and Trapper lakes, and the lake shore campsites in the Spalding Bay area of Jackson Lake,” said the release.

The weather forecast coming in today (Tuesday) and Wednesday could put a serious damper on the fire or at least slow it significantly.

“It could be what we call a (fire) season-ending event,” Skaggs said.