Backcountry fire covers 2,000 acres in Yellowstone

The Spruce fire burning in Yellowstone National Park, as seen from Dunraven Pass, covers a little over 2,100 acres.

NPS photo

The Spruce fire burning in Yellowstone National Park, as seen from Dunraven Pass, covers a little over 2,100 acres.

A backcountry fire burning in Yellowstone National Park has grown to more than 2,000 acres, but no facilities are threatened and no road or trails have been closed.

The lightning-caused Spruce Fire has been burning since early this month, and covered an estimated 2,100 acres as of Sunday, according to information released by the park’s public affairs office. Yellowstone covers more than 2.2 million acres, a land mass larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Crews are monitoring the fire by air and from lookout points on Mount Washburn and other locations throughout the park.

The Spruce fire is burning in a fire-adapted lodgepole pine forest, approximately 10 miles west of Fishing Bridge and two miles south of Hayden Valley in the central portion of Yellowstone.

Smoke from the fire has been visible throughout the park and in surrounding communities.

Park officials note that the fire continues to play its natural role in the ecosystem and crews are managing it for its benefits to park resources. Such fires are typically allowed to burn along a natural course, with point protection set up for structures or other important resources.

The Spruce fire is burning in a typical mosaic pattern within the fire’s perimeter, with overall fire activity picking up in the afternoon as temperatures rise, relative humidity levels drop, and gusty winds increase. On Sunday, hazy smoke from wildland fires burning in California and parts of Idaho likely played a role in suppressing the fire’s activity and spread. A change in the weather forecast for Monday calls for cloudier, cooler, and wetter conditions.

A much smaller fire, the 5L4 Fire on the Promontory Peninsula at the south end of Yellowstone Lake, was reported on August 24, is currently 16 acres and not very active. Fire crews are also managing this fire for its benefits to park resources. Backcountry campsites 5L3, 5L4, and 6A1 continue to be closed due to the 5L4 Fire.

The decision on managing each fire in the park is based on a number of factors, including current and predicted conditions, as well as potential values at risk. There have been two additional park fires that have been suppressed in the past week, a human-caused fire in Mammoth Hot Springs on September 10, and a lightning-caused fire near the northwest boundary of the park on September 12.

The fire danger in Yellowstone National Park is currently “High.” There are no fire restrictions in place, however, campfires are only allowed in designated grills in park campgrounds, some picnic areas, and specific backcountry campsites.

For up-to-date information on fires burning across the country, go to http://inciweb.nwcg.gov. To learn more about fire management in Yellowstone, visit www.nps.gov/yell/learn/management/firemanagement.htm.

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