Well, it's too early to predict when the Red Eagle Fire in Glacier National Park will be fully contained, much less controlled, but the nearly 700 firefighters on the fire lines appear to be getting the upper hand. As of this morning the fire covered 27,500 acres, and fire bosses reported that 65 percent of the 56-mile-long perimeter had been contained.
While there are still expectations that the fire could move further up the Red Eagle Creek, Divide Creek, St. Mary, and the Hudson Bay Creek drainages, some fire crews are being moved into mop-up mode along U.S. 89 between the town of St. Mary and St. Mary Lake. Others are working to establish a hand line from the highway to Divide Mountain. Work also is being done to rehabilitate access lines that were created to help the firefighters battle the flames.
One reason no structures have been lost to the flames are the precautions crews took to safeguard buildings. As you can see from the accompanying picture, quite a bit is done to ward off approaching flames.
When the fire early on made a move towards the town of St. Mary, the key mission of the firefighters was to prevent the town from being overrun by the flames, a goal they accomplished. Still, there were some close calls, as you can see from the picture taken from the parking lot at the Resort at Glacier, a lodge that stands just outside the park's St. Mary's entrance.
No cause has been associated with the fire, and it's hard to say whether officials will ever be able to determine a cause. Too, there are no assurances that the flames will be entirely doused before early fall snows arrive in mid-September.
Still, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open in its entirety across Glacier, and in the long run the flames should prove beneficial for the park as they clear out high fuel loads that have accumulated over the years and punch holes in forest for meadows that will benefit wildlife.
While the landscape initially won't look too pretty, from my experience covering the historic wildfires in Yellowstone back in 1988 I would bet you'll see vegetation and possibly even wildflowers punching through the charred acreage before the end of summer.