Efforts to manage the five fires in Yellowstone National Park have been consolidated into one effort under the Druid Fire Complex banner, as wet and cooler weather has slowed the growth of the larger fires.
Currently there are over 200 personnel now working on fire management.
Wednesday’s thunderstorms brought cooler temperatures, increased humidity and rain to the fire areas, which moderated fire activity and limited growth of the fires. However, the fires remain active with heat and smoke in the interior areas, and will likely flare up when temperatures get warmer and drier again.
On the flip side: the thunderstorms also brought lightning. Aerial detection is being used to look for any new fires that may have resulted from strikes in the park. Scattered thunderstorms are anticipated again throughout Thursday and could bring additional precipitation to the area.
Here’s the status of the five fires comprising the Druid Fire Complex:
Alum Fire: The Alum Fire is located in the heart of the park, just west of the section of the Grand Loop Road between Canyon Village and Fishing Bridge. The fire grew slightly Wednesday with light rains canvassing the area, and now covers 7,070 acres. This acreage is less than Wednesday’s estimate due to improved infrared mapping (which looks for heat) of the fire.
Mud Volcano, LeHardy Rapids, and several picnic areas and pullouts, as well as some backcountry trails in the area are temporarily closed.
Preparations have been made to provide structure protection in the Fishing Bridge, Lake Village, and Bridge Bay areas should the fire advance towards the northwest shore of Yellowstone Lake. While area evacuations are not imminent, preparations are underway to assist residents and visitors in leaving the Fishing Bridge, Lake Village, and Bridge Bay areas in the event that an evacuation is necessary in the coming days. Fire managers also continue to focus on protection of the road corridor and the boardwalks in Mud Volcano.
Alder Fire: This fire is isolated on a peninsula at the south end of Yellowstone Lake and is buffered by water on three sides and a recently burned area to the south. The fire grew slightly Wednesday, and now covers approximately 4,240 acres. All backcountry campsites on the Promontory are temporarily closed.
Druid Fire: The Druid Fire is located high above the Northeast Entrance road on the north side of Druid Peak. It remains at 150 acres. Smoke from the fire may impact Cook City and Silver Gate depending on the wind direction and the plume may be visible. However, the fire is not advancing toward any communities.
Snake Fire: The Snake Fire is located three miles east of the South Entrance along the boundary with the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The fire currently covers 200 acres but remains minimally active.
Passage Fire: The Passage Fire is located at the south end of Yellowstone Lake. It is the smallest of the fires at 1 acre, and is isolated in a small patch of trees. There has been no spread of the fire.
The highest priority in managing these fires, according to National Park Service officials, is to protect public and firefighter safety. They are being closely monitored to maximize the benefits they provide for the unique ecosystems found in the park. Many plant species, including Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine, which dominate the forests, are dependent on fire. Yellowstone’s wild animals have adapted to fire in their habitats as well.
All roads within the Park as well as the roads to all major campgrounds, lodging, stores and visitor services in the park are open. All visitors are encouraged to check for updates often as road closures may be needed based on the fire’s activity. Updated park road information is available 24-hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.
UPDATE: As of 2 p.m. today, the Beartooth Highway is open between Cooke City and Red Lodge. It had been closed in Wyoming at the Long Lake gate near the bottom of Beartooth Pass. Firefighting crews are still located three miles south of Red Lodge, with the public urged to drive cautiously through the area.
Image of the Alder Fire on Aug. 19 courtesy of the National Weather Service.