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Glacier National Park socked in by wildfire smoke - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Glacier National Park socked in by wildfire smoke

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(GLACIER NATIONAL PARK) The Sprague Fire that triggered evacuations over the weekend on the west side of Glacier National Park has grown to than 13,343 acres.

Fire officials estimate that the lightning-sparked fire is about 35% contained as of Tuesday evening. The fire is located about nine miles northeast of West Glacier. A Northern Rockies Type II Fire Management Team, led by Diane Hutton, is fighting the fire.

The current evacuation area includes the Lake McDonald Lodge area, the Sprague Creek campground, the Avalanche Campground, and about 55 residences.

Fire managers say heavy smoke caused a reduction in fire behavior overnight, but how is that smoke impacting the park?

Seth Ordahl who works in Apgar Village as a manager for the Glacier Park Boat Company, said, "Just two days ago a strong north wind picked up and that's when we got all this ash and debris and it was literally flying through the air."

He noted, "This is definitely the smokiest I've seen it down here, usually when you look out this direction you can see Rocky Point which is only a mile and a half, two miles away, and you can't even see maybe three-quarters of the way to that."

About nine miles away, the Lake McDonald Lodge area remains under an evacuation order. Fire managers taking are working to protect the lodge and surrounding structures.

They say the a big challenge is getting resources.

"We're competing with 78 other large incidents, so we're all competing and everything is being prioritized whether it's in our region alone or nationally," said Northern Rockies Wildland Fire Management Team spokesperson Dianne Mann-Klager.

Flathead County firefighters have been laying hoses and setting up sprinklers to help make the area more defensible if the fire should reach it.

"We have had a number of different agencies helping us out with this fire," said Glacier National Park spokesperson Lauren Alley. "Most recently we've had help from our local fire department from across the valley lending their fire trucks and their personnel in helping us along that Lake McDonald Lodge area and we deeply appreciate that."

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