Wildfires in western Wyoming has put both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks on high alert for fire risk, and has led to some road closures.
According to the Casper Star Tribune, the Cliff Creek Fire, which started Sunday and is burning in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, has blossomed to about 10 square miles. Approximately 300 firefighters are currently on the scene.
The fire has closed about 40 miles of U.S. 191/189, from Daniel Junction to Hoback Junction, which is a popular route for visitors to Jackson, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. UPDATE: U.S. 191/189 has reopened, according to the Associated Press.
Drivers looking to get to the Park through Wyoming can take alternate routes, including I-25 through Casper. From the Tribune:
Firefighters have been hitting the fire from the air with tankers dropping retardant and helicopters dropping water, Forest Service spokeswoman Nan Stinson said. “They want to keep the fire from spreading to the north and west,” Stinson said.
To the north, the fire is threatening summer homes, a hot springs pool area and a wilderness education camp.
About 70 people, including about 50 from the wilderness camp, have been evacuated, said Cindy Harger, spokeswoman for Teton County.
A few people registered with a Red Cross shelter that was opened in Jackson, about 25 miles away, but most apparently found other temporary lodging, Harger said.
Elsewhere, a small wildfire burning northeast of Dubois in a remote section of neighboring Shoshone National Forest is expected to continue growing because of hot, dry weather.
Lightning ignited the Lava Mountain Fire. Crews had trouble finding it at first because of its small size, but it grew Saturday due to hotter temperatures and wind. Firefighters have been hampered by steep terrain and dead and downed trees, which have created hazards, according to the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team.
More than 200 firefighters are now working the blaze, which has closed portions of the Continental Divide Trail.
None of the Lava Mountain Fire is contained.
According to ABC Fox Montana, visitors to Grand Teton have already been impacted by the fires; the Ulrichs of New Mexico told ABC Fox that, while their drive wasn’t impacted, smoke veiled much of Grand Teton:
“Because we got through before they had to close any roads it didn’t end up changing our plans but it did change our perception of Teton National park because i my was just full of smoke you could just hardly see the mountains and it was a pity because 20 years ago I was trying to tell my family oh it’s beautiful with the mountains and everything but we couldn’t even see them from the highway because the smoke was so bad,” said TJ Ulrich, tourist.
Yellowstone National Park spokesperson Morgan Warthin told ABC Fox Montana that the Park is on high alert, adding that a group of Park firefighters are on standby in case of emergency. “What that means for Yellowstone is that we have moved into a high fire danger and we are asking all visitors to be aware that a high fire danger does exist in the park and in some of the surrounding areas,” Warthin told ABC Fox.
Currently, there are two fires burning in Yellowstone National Park: the Bluff Fire 10 miles southeast of Canyon Village, and the Bighorn Fire in the far northwest corner of the Park. Both are being monitored by Yellowstone fire managers.