Heavy rain helps cool Yellowstone wildfires

2013-08-22T11:26:00Z 2013-08-22T21:19:04Z Heavy rain helps cool Yellowstone wildfiresThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 22, 2013 11:26 am  • 

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Heavy rain has helped cool off wildfires burning in Yellowstone National Park, reducing the possibility of more road closures that could interfere with tourists' plans.

Half an inch of rain fell Wednesday on the park's biggest fire, the Alum Fire, which has burned about 12 square miles of wilderness north of Lake Village.

On Tuesday, the fire forced park officials to close a section of the road between Fishing Bridge and Canyon Village. Park officials also made preliminary plans to evacuate Lake Village.

By Thursday, any evacuation or more road closures looked increasingly unlikely.

"We probably got as much rain in one day as we normally get in the whole month of August," Yellowstone spokesman Dan Hottle said.

Some areas of southeastern Yellowstone got up to an inch of rain, he said.

A national incident management team took over oversight of the fires although not operations on the ground. There was little activity on the ground to manage. Park officials said they weren't changing their strategy of mostly letting the fires burn to help the ecosystem.

Trails and parking areas along the Yellowstone River remained closed in case the fire flares up and the area needs to be cut off and evacuated, Hottle said.

Tuesday's road closure was about the worst effect fires have had on tourism in Wyoming so far this year - far less than the disruption of last summer's wildfires.

The rain even helped clear skies in Cody that had been smoky for the past couple weeks, said Scott Balyo, executive director of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce.

"It's been a relatively quiet season as far as fires affecting visitors," Balyo said.

Besides the Alum Fire, four other, smaller fires were burning in remote areas of Yellowstone. Wyoming's biggest fire remained the Hardluck Fire, which had burned 39 square miles of a remote part of Shoshone National Forest and wasn't being fought.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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