The historic Mount Holmes Fire Lookout is no more, burning to the ground Tuesday afternoon after being hit by a lightning strike generated by a severe thunderstorm.
The fire also damaged a nearby park radio repeater. It was first reported by the NPS employee staffing the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout.
Located southwest of Mammoth Hot Springs and north of Madison Junction, the 1931 lookout had not been staffed since 2007, but it was eyed for designation for placement on the National Register of Historic Places list.
“The building was eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, both for its significance in early park resource protection efforts, and as an outstanding example of the rustic architectural style that typified early park architecture. We are disappointed that this historic structure, as a window into the past, is gone,” said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Pat Kenney.
On Wednesday morning, three employees–including the park fire chief–attempted to fly to the 10,000-feet-high lookout via helicopter to assess the damage. However, the flight was postponed. The helicopter was diverted to a higher priority incident outside the park. In the afternoon, staff attempted to fly to the lookout again but were grounded due to strong winds. Additional attempts will be made in the next few days.
According to park officials, the Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes are closed. The closure will remain in effect until the unsafe conditions are assessed, mitigated, and no longer pose a threat to public safety.
Photo courtesy National Park Service.