WEST GLACIER — Smoky skies above Glacier National Park did not stymie a busy Labor Day weekend, but the popular hiking trail to Avalanche Lake remains closed due to a 45-acre wildfire burning on Mount Brown.
Since the lightning-caused fire was first reported Saturday afternoon, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service firefighters have been working to build a perimeter around the Avalanche fire, which is located on the west side of Glacier National Park above Avalanche Lake.
About 25 firefighters from Glacier National Park, the Flathead National Forest and Kootenai National Forest, in addition to eight smokejumpers, worked through the weekend to suppress the fire.
On Monday and Tuesday, a helicopter dropped bucket loads of water on the flames, but aerial work was limited at times due to high winds. Smoke columns and flames crowning in the treetops could be seen by hikers from some vantage points, including Floral Park and Comeau Pass.
Bucket drops continued throughout the day on Tuesday, while ground crews worked to secure a fire line on the west and north flanks. A portion of the fire is burning in rocky and steep terrain, which limits the probability of it spreading, said park spokeswoman Denise Germann.
Despite the smoke, which was only visible from certain areas, visitors flocked to the park.
“You can see smoke from a few places – on Lake McDonald, from the Sun Road and at Apgar Visitor Center – but I don’t think it affected the busy weekend at all,” Germann said.
Smoke was reported on Saturday, Sept. 1, at approximately 2:30 p.m. and the cause of the fire is believed to be lightning.
Although the Avalanche Lake Trail will be closed until further notice, Germann said there are a variety of ranger-led programs and activities for visitors to enjoy. For a schedule of events, call Glacier National Park at (406) 888-7800.