Forest officials said Friday that a campfire that wasn’t properly extinguished sparked one of the two wildfires actively burning on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Campfires are generally prohibited in the forest right now, but they are permitted within the Teton and Gros Ventre wilderness areas. The Holmes Cave Fire is located within the Teton Wilderness Area, north of Togwotee Pass.
“Fires are allowed in the Teton Wilderness but the visitor[s] did not fully extinguish their fire before leaving,” Bridger-Teton officials reported over social media. “Winds on that day were throwing spots or small embers from the main fire across the meadow into adjacent timber stands.”
Wildland firefighters responded quickly, but the blaze had already grown to an acre in size by the time they arrived Sept. 15. Water drops from a helicopter prevented spotting embers from establishing other fires and spreading.
As of Friday, the Holmes Cave Fire was listed at 2 acres in size, and it has been contained to a timbered island where the fire started. Nearby high-elevation meadows have been too green to burn. The blaze, still smoldering, is located on the north side of Togwotee Pass about 3.5 miles north of Highway 26.
Several other 2020 wildfires that were human-caused remain under investigation, including the 102-acre Swinging Bridge Fire and the 17-acre Smoky Hollow Fire.
Firefighters report on TetonFires.com that the national forest and Grand Teton National Park have found 220 abandoned or unattended campfires this summer. Some 46 illegal campfires have been discovered while fire restrictions were in place.