Buffalo Complex Fires Grow In Yellowstone, Thumb Fire Suppressed

The Buffalo Complex in Yellowstone National Park continues to grow, as firefighting continues across the Park.

We previously reported that five fires (Maple, Buffalo, Thumb, Boundary, and Fawn) were burning across Yellowstone National Park. Fire crews decided to group the fires as the Buffalo Complex.

Thumb Fire, located half-a-mile from the Grand Loop Road, was immediately subjected to suppression tactics by smokejumpers and helicopter water drops. As of 8:55 a.m. MST August 18, the fire appears to be, if not suppressed, then at least contained. It is no longer listed as an active fire in Yellowstone through InciWeb.

According to Inciweb, Maple Fire has grown to 12,199 acres and continues to burn northeast, away from the Gneiss Creek trail. Over the past few days, crews have gathered fuel samples to chart its progression. The Maple Fire is of special interest to fire scientists, since it’s burning in a scar left by the 1988 Yellowstone fires. You can see a photo of the fire below, taken August 15, 2016.

maple fire august 15 2016

Buffalo Fire, burning five miles northeast of Tower Junction, has swelled to 2,089 acres as of 8:30 a.m. August 18. Like Maple Fire, Buffalo is burning through a 1988 fire scar.

Smoke from the Buffalo and Maple Fires can still be seen throughout Yellowstone and in neighboring gateway communities.

The Boundary Fire, meanwhile, which is burning four miles north of West Yellowstone, is currently an estimated 50 acres in size. Over the past few days, smokejumpers have been working to curb the fire’s growth, with assistance from helicopter water drops and a pair of “scoopers” (CL-215 airplanes).

Finally, Fawn Fire has grown slightly from 936 acres to 1,000 acres.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are still in place for Yellowstone National Park. Below is the list of trails and campsites currently closed due to fire activity:


• WA1

• WB1

• WB3

• WB4

• WB6


• Buffalo Fork Trail from the trailhead at Slough Creek to the Park Boundary.

• Gneiss Creek Trail from the Gneiss Creek Trailhead (WK7) to Seven Mile Bridge Trailhead (WK8).

• Bighorn Pass trail eastbound at the junction of the cut-off trail to the Fawn Pass trail.

• Bighorn Pass trail westbound at Bighorn Pass.

• Fawn Pass trail eastbound at the junction of the cut-off trail to the Big Horn Pass trail.

• Fawn Pass trail westbound at campsite 1F2.

• The cut-off trail between Bighorn and Fawn Pass trails is open.

According to Inciweb, while the Buffalo Fork Trail is closed, both the Slough Creek trail and campsites are open. All Park roads and visitor facilities, both NPS- and concessionaire-operated, are open as well.

UPDATE: new information on the Buffalo Complex is available here.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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