YNP’s fire still active; GTNP’s under control
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
July 14, 2012
Three small wildfires that were sparked Thursday afternoon in Wyoming’s two national parks took different paths Friday, with the Yellowstone fire ballooning while two in Grand Teton died down.
The Blacktail Fire was reported burning shortly after 3 p.m. Thursday in northern Yellowstone, not far from the Wyoming-Montana border. It is located a little more than a mile north of the entrance to Blacktail Plateau Drive, near the road linking Mammoth Hot Springs and Tower Junction.
The blaze grew overnight from 5 to 15 acres, and is moving through rugged timber, Yellowstone Spokesman Al Nash said.
“We’re going to have people on this fire for a few days, but at this point we don’t have any projection on the fire’s future,” Nash said. “There’s enough smoke that you can even see it on the Mount Washburn fire lookout webcam.”
The Blacktail Fire is believed to have been started by lightning. Firefighters have not established a perimeter around it, Nash said.
A helicopter, 11 firefighters and eight smokejumpers have been working the blaze, Nash said. A Canadian air tanker dropped a load of retardant on Blacktail on Thursday night, but is not assigned to the fire.
The Tram Fire, reported in Grand Teton park on Thursday at 4:45 p.m., was officially declared out around noon Friday.
The blaze never really threw flames and smoldered on 1/10th of an acre in light timber not far from the top of the aerial tram, fire information officer Traci Weaver said.
“We have an investigator out on the Tram Fire to determine whether it was human-caused,” Weaver said. “There was an illegal campfire ring. Campfires are never legal in that part of the park.”
A second Grand Teton wildfire, believed to be caused by lightning during Wednesday’s storm, was detected Friday morning near Colter Bay, Weaver said.
The unnamed fire was less than 1/10th of an acre, like the Tram Fire. By noon, a small crew had a firebreak all the way around the easily accessible blaze.
Two much-larger wildfires in northwest Wyoming, the Fontenelle and Bear Cub blazes, have abated over the past week.
The Fontenelle, which has burned about 64,000 acres about 18 miles west of Big Piney, was 87 percent contained by Friday afternoon. The 6,250-acre Bear Cub Fire, which burned some 30 miles to the east of Moran, has been downgraded by fire managers.
The fire danger in Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Teton County remains high, and partial fire restrictions are in effect.