From Staff Reports
Lightning from thunderstorms has touched off a number of wildland fires around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, and firefighters have responded quickly to contain and suppress blazes as a dry, hot summer has left the region vulnerable to potentially large and dangerous fires.
A fire was discovered Monday in Robbers Roost Creek on the Wapiti Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest, about 18 miles west of Cody, Wyo., according to information released by the U.S. Forest Service. The Robbers Fire is approximately 15 acres in size and is located four miles northwest of Logan Mountain. The fire was started by lightning on July 28 but was not discovered until this morning when warmer, drier conditions allowed it to grow. It is burning in sagebrush, grass, and timber.
Air tankers carrying water were headed to the Robbers Fire Monday afternoon. A light helicopter was being used for water drops and to deliver firefighters to the fire.
New fire Monday in Grand Teton
Teton Interagency Fire crews are suppressing a new fire reported about 12:45 p.m. on Monday, July 30 at the southwest side of Emma Matilda Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The 1/2-acre fire is burning in grass, sage and light timber with occasional trees torching.
Road crews working on construction near Jackson Lake junction on Highway 89/287 called in an initial report of smoke somewhere between the junction and Oxbow Bend or Lozier Hill. Firefighters responded from both the Colter Bay area and a fire effects plot near Lozier Hill where they were doing research.
When they arrived on scene at 2 p.m., the fire was making a noticeable run and causing single trees to torch. The incident commander ordered a Teton Interagency helicopter to cool the fire with bucket drops, and about eight firefighters stopped the fire’s advance by 3:30 p.m.
As a safety precaution, rangers implemented temporary closures at the Christian Pond and Oxbow Bend Overlook trailheads. They also made contact with people hiking Two Ocean Lake and Grand View trails to alert visitors recreating in the vicinity.
Other resources, including a 20-person crew, are en route to the fire, which is believed to be lightning-caused. One firefighter received a minor injury and was removed by helicopter just after 4 p.m.
Almost 2,000 lightning strikes
The Teton Interagency Fire authority reported more than 1,940 area lightning strikes in 24 hours Friday evening and Saturday, keeping firefighters busy chasing smoke reports and taking action on new fires.
Lightning sparked several new fires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and at least two new fires in Grand Teton National Park. Saturday afternoon, firefighters were attempting to locate two additional reported smokes, one southwest of Pilgrim Peak and one on Angle Mountain in the Togwotee Pass area.
The first reported fire was the Ham’s Ridge Fire, a 1/10th acre lightning fire about 3 miles west of the Elk Creek Guard Station on the Kemmerer Ranger District. Sheepherders spotted the fire at 2 a.m. July 27. Four Teton Interagency firefighters responded from Kemmerer and Pinedale with a wildland fire engine Friday morning and had the fire extinguished by 5 p.m. Friday.
Two firefighters arrived by helicopter at 6 p.m. Friday to suppress the Crystal Creek Fire, which was burning in a single lightning-struck tree. The fire was located within the Gros Ventre Wilderness in the Crystal Creek drainage and was declared out at 7:15 p.m.
Friday evening, Teton Interagency Fire crews responded to the Brush Fire, located off Brush Creek Road in the Jackson Ranger District, about four miles east of Cunningham Cabin. The Brush Fire was less than 1/10th of an acre and burned in heavy timber and grass understory. Firefighters suppressed the fire by 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
Firefighters responded Saturday morning to a fire reported near Uhl Hill. The lightning fire of less than an acre was actually southeast of Uhl Hill and south of Enyon Draw, just inside the boundary of Grand Teton National Park. The Park and Forest management made a joint decision to suppress the fire, which was extinguished by 3:30 p.m.
The Blacktail Fire in Grand Teton National Park, reported just before noon on Saturday, was burning in one lightning-struck tree and a small spot around it. Fire crews hiked in to suppress the fire, and had completed a line around it by 2:40 p.m. (An earlier Blacktail Fire in Yellowstone Park has been contained.)
On Saturday afternoon, Teton Interagency firefighters were responding to a smoke report in the Ham’s Fork area of the Kemmerer Ranger District.
Fire restrictions remain in effect for most public lands across the greater Yellowstone area.
Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]