The Red Eagle Fire on the eastern side of Glacier National Park had grown to 30,000 acres by Wednesday night. But, fire bosses were still pleased with where the fire was burning. It hasn’t jumped containment lines and by Wednesday night, crews had it 70 percent contained.
Meanwhile, on the Big Creek Fire in the Paradise Valley, lines are secure on the southern, eastern and western flanks, but that bugger of a northern side, burning into a wilderness study area, is still growing. There, spot fires and rugged terrain are making containment difficult. But, a cold front that moved in Tuesday helped burn out some green spots to help secure lines there.
The management team on the fire has decided to contain the northern edge, even if it is in the wilderness study area because they want to keep it from jumping into the Hyalite Canyon and north of the divide on the Bozeman side, Krause said. The Hyalite is a popular recreation area.
The Big Creek fire is 80 percent contained and has held for the last week or so at 12,000 acres after a flare up a little more than a week ago that burned 21 buildings in the area — three of them primary homes. So far, it has cost $3.3 million to fight and as of Tuesday evening, there was about 470 people working the fire and three helicopters.
Meanwhile, on the Red Eagle fire, crews were able to continue to secure containment lines a little more thanks to higher humidity Wednesday and most of the growth was confined to upper elevation drainages within the.
The fire has been projected to move to the south and the west in the upper Divide Creek, Red Eagle, Medicine Owl, and Hudson Bay Creek drainages within the park.
As of last week, evacuations at St. Mary village were lifted and all of the Going to the Sun Road was reopened. By Friday afternoon, all of Highway 89 was reopened with reduced speed limits and one-lane due to construction and rehab work there. A weekend flare-up along 89 worsened the congestion.
Cut Bank Creek Campground on the south side of the fire and the surrounding trails and the backcountry campground near there are still closed. Park Superintendent Mick Holm Wednesday ordered new restrictions on campfires in the park, prohibiting all campfires and smoking in the backcountry as well as the frontcountry campgrounds at Quartz Creek and Cut Bank Creek if it reopens.
The fire has burned one unoccupied trailer and two empty cabins on the eastern side.
About 50% (15,000 acres) of the fire is on Blackfeet Tribal Trust Lands, 50% (14,955 acres) is within Glacier National Park and less than 1% is on private land held within the Blackfeet Nation.
The Red Eagle Fire has cost $3.8 million so far to suppress. Tuesday, there were about 702 people on the fire with the help of five helicopters.