Yellowstone asks public for tips on human-caused fire

A man pleaded guilty Tuesday to starting a July fire that spread quickly near Yellowstone National Park's North Entrance Station.

Yellowstone National Park officials are seeking help from possible witnesses to help determine the cause of a fire that spread from a picnic area near the North Entrance Station to Gardner River.

The fire spread quickly through grass and sagebrush around 6 p.m. Friday, according to a park press release. Crews from Yellowstone, the town of Gardiner and Paradise Valley contained blaze to about four acres, including a half-acre spot fire on the other side of the Gardner River. The quick response prevented threats to visitors and buildings, the release said.

The fire triggered a 90-minute closure of the North Entrance Road. Outbound traffic was still able to exit the park via the Old Gardiner Road.

The fire was human caused and remains under investigation. The park is asking anyone who was in the area Friday evening and has information about people using the picnic area near the entrance station to call the park’s 24-hour tip line at 307-344-2132. Callers can remain anonymous.

Although fire danger is rated as high, only one wildfire is burning on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and no fires are reported in Grand Teton National Park.

The lightning-caused Box Creek Fire continues to smolder in the Teton Wilderness, east of Gravel Ridge and within the Box Creek drainage. Fire behavior continues to be minimal as the fire slowly consumes dead logs and ground fuels, according to the Teton Interagency Fire website.

Given fire conditions, location and possible risk to firefighters, the fire is being allowed to play its natural role the wilderness. But the forest plans to prevent the fire from moving south toward homes and guest ranches in Buffalo Valley, about 2.5 miles away.

On Thursday, two firefighters rode into the fire on horseback to gather fire data and take photos of the fire’s activity.

Contact Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington at 732-7078 or rebecca@jhnewsandguide.com.

Managing Editor Rebecca Huntington has worked for newspapers across the West. She hosts a rescue podcast, The Fine Line. Her family minivan doubles as her not-so-high-tech recording studio.

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