Lone Star Fire

A pine marten laps up water that cascaded off the Old Faithful Inn during a sprinkler test Tuesday.

The Lone Star Fire burning south of Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park grew to 821 acres Wednesday.

The fire is growing slowly, away from the historic lodge and visitor services around the famous geyser. So far, crews have placed themselves at the ready at critical points, but they are not aggressively managing the edges of the blaze.

Fire behavior has been dependent on weather in the past couple of days, “remaining fairly inactive throughout the morning but picking up in the afternoon due to increased temperatures and gusty winds,” the park’s Wednesday fire report stated.

Growth occurred along the southwest and northeast flanks, with spot fires starting as far as a half-mile from the active edge. That pushed the fire’s growth to the east.

The report said the team managing the fire had called for more resources and personnel so that it could put protection plans in place for areas around the fire. It did not say when those crews might arrive.

Many of the campsites and trails between Old Faithful and Shoshone Lake are closed, as is the section of the Grand Loop Road between West Thumb and Old Faithful. Check Yellowstone’s Backcountry Situation Report for the most up-to-date closure information.

The Lone Star Fire is just one of dozens burning throughout the West, and dry conditions have led governmental agencies around the region to instate fire bans.

Teton County is the latest to enact such restrictions. Given the dry conditions and potential for lightning over the next couple of days, the Teton County Board of County Commissioners, at the request of Jackson Fire/EMS Chief Brady Hansen, prohibited open fires on unincorporated lands in Teton County until further notice. That includes private, commercial and recreational activities.

Besides the weather and very high fire danger, the availability of firefighting resources was a concern for Hansen. Dozens of fires across the West could make it difficult to pull crews or aircraft should a wildfire ignite.

Valley-floor grasses are ripe for fire activity after weeks of dry weather.

“We need to eliminate any chances of human-caused ignitions,” Battalion Chief Kathy Clay said in a press release. “The afternoon lightning storms are challenging our local resources, and of course the national resources are very limited considering all of the other fires in the nation.”

The county ban comes after Yellowstone had already banned backcountry campfires, as did Grand Teton National Park. The Bridger-Teton National Forest also has banned campfires except in designated campsites with fire rings and in the Teton and Gros Ventre wildernesses.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has banned open fires on Game and Fish Commission lands as well. Smoking is prohibited except for inside a building or vehicle, and only gas grills that can be easily turned off are allowed.

Jackson Hole has not been immune to the heightened fire danger in recent weeks. Teton Interagency Fire reported six fires were ignited by lightning strikes Monday, including one atop Teton Pass.

None grew quickly, and as of Wednesday afternoon, just two were considered active. The Skull Creek Meadows Fire is 3 miles northeast of Mount Leidy and at about 0.25 acres. The Iron Rim Creek Fire is 4 miles west of Hoback Junction in the Snake River Canyon, and is listed as burning 0.1 acres.

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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