Spruce Fire continues to grow in Yellowstone

The Spruce Fire burning in Yellowstone National Park has grown to an estimated 1,164 acres as of 6:00 pm on Saturday. Fueled by warm weather, low relative humidity levels, and westerly winds, the fire is actively burning in the backcountry, approximately ten miles west of Fishing Bridge and two miles south of Hayden Valley in the central portion of the park. Crews monitoring the fire by helicopter report patchy burning within the fire’s perimeter, isolated torching of single trees, and only a small amount of crowning in the late afternoon as the sun was high overhead and fire activity picked up on Saturday afternoon. This mosaic pattern of burning is typical fire behavior in a lodgepole pine forest. The lightning-caused fire continues to play its natural role in the ecosystem and is being managed for its benefits to park resources.

Although smoke from the fire is visible throughout the park and surrounding communities, no park facilities, structures, trails, or roads are threatened and there are no closures in place. Weather forecasts for Sunday call for continued dry conditions, with low relative humidity and possible gusty winds in the afternoon. Fire managers expect the fire to be active throughout today, continuing to increase in size with a very visible smoke column. A webcam at the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout shows excellent views of the fire area, www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm.

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 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.