The Butte Fire began on Aug. 30 in the Lamar Valley; we noted its arrival then but didn’t hear anything in the way of followup; a week-long trip to the Park last week didn’t yield any indication that the fire was nothing more than a little blip on the summer season.
But we are in fire season. Despite the fire danger as being estimated by Park officials as being only moderate, there’s been some interesting fire developments in the Park and beyond; we drove through a fairly large fire around Columbus, Mont., north of the Park. Overall, there have been 17 reported fires in Yellowstone National Park this summer, though 16 of them have been a half-acre or less in size, almost all caused by lightning.
A Sept. 3 drive through the Lamar Valley yielded some evidence of the Butte Fire in the way of visible smoke, as this is the little fire that just won’t give up. The Butte Fire is located east of the Lamar Ranger Station at Buffalo Ranch and north of the Northeast Entrance Road on Druid Peak, 16 miles southwest of Cooke City. It gets its name from proximity to Soda Butte. Park officials say the fire stayed small for several days until getting a boost from the weather on Sept. 2.
And the fire may grow in the next several days, but we’re not talking about anything with a huge impact here. The weather in Yellowstone has been absolutely gorgeous lately: the days have been marked by higher temperatures and lower humidity, two factors conductive to great tourist experiences and forest-fire growth. We didn’t see any evidence of flames, and most driving up the highway won’t see any evidence of flames, either. Even if you head up the Trout Creek trail — the one closest to the fire — you won’t see any evidence of flames. Just smoke, especially in the evening on a still night. In fact, exposure to smoke is at this time the greatest threat to anyone: no buildings or residents are under any threat, and no roads, picnic areas or campgrounds have been shut down because of the fire.