A downed power line has sparked a small fire in Yellowstone National Park and forced rangers to close a section of the Grand Loop Road north of Fishing Bridge.
The so-called "LeHardy Fire," named after a nearby section of rapids in the Yellowstone River about 3 miles north of Fishing Bridge, covered between 5 and 10 acres as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. The fire started in a powerline corridor that runs parallel to the Grand Loop Road near LeHardy Rapids. Fanned by gusty winds, the fire quickly spread and jumped the river.
Yellowstone firefighters were being supported by two fire engines and a water tender, and a call has been made for smokejumpers, additional engines, and helicopters.
The fire weather forecast for Yellowstone calls for temperatures to drop into the 40s overnight, with increasing humidity and ridge top winds dropping to about 10 miles an hour after midnight. The forecast for Thursday calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s to near 80, relative humidity of 17 to 23 percent, and southwest winds increasing in the afternoon to 10-15 miles an hour.
Wet and snowy conditions delayed the onset of fire season in Yellowstone this year. This is only the third fire of the season. Two fires earlier this year, one human-caused and one lightning-caused, were both just one-tenth of an acre in size.
The LeHardy Fire does not pose a threat to visitors. All park entrances and seasonal visitor services are open. Some backcountry trails and campsites may be impacted by the fire. Updated information is available at all of the park’s Backcountry Offices or by calling 307-344-2160 during business hours.
It is unknown when the road will reopen to travel. Updated Yellowstone National Park road information is available 24 hours a day by calling 307-344-2117.