Building summer heat and declining moisture are combining to produce dangerous fire conditions in Grand Teton National Park and the adjacent Bridger-Teton National Forest. The potential for wildfires has been bumped up to "high" in those two preserves.
Just to the north of Grand Teton, in Yellowstone National Park, that park's fourth fire of the summer was spotted in the Lamar Valley on Monday evening, yet fire conditions there remain pegged at "moderate." As of Tuesday afternoon the fire was less than a half-acre in size. Nicknamed the "Druid Fire," the blaze was expected to grow slowly, but might produce a smoke plume visible from the road, according to park officials.
But to the south of Yellowstone "drying vegetation combined with a recent rise in temperatures, lower humidity, and afternoon winds has increased the potential for fire activity. Local residents and visitors alike should exercise an extra measure of caution and practice heightened fire safety at all times—responsible steps include making sure that a campfire is thoroughly extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving a campsite," Grand Teton and Bridger-Teton officials said in a joint release Tuesday.
"Unattended or abandoned campfires can quickly escalate into wildfires. So far this summer, campers have carelessly abandoned 67 campfires on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The fine for an abandoned campfire is $225, but campers can also be held liable for suppression costs if their campfire becomes a wildfire," the officials added.
Against this tinder-dry background, Teton interagency firefighters are managing three fires for resource benefits. There's a small fire, less than an acre in size, near the base of Mount Moran to the west of Leigh Lake in Grand Teton, while the "Snake Fire" near the Teton Point turnout and the "Box Creek Fire" in the Teton Wilderness on the Bridger-Teton National Forest are smoldering, but are not currently producing visible smoke.
Visitors to Grand Teton are reminded that they can report a fire or smoke in either the national park or the national forest by calling the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 307-739-3630.