Fire obstructs path for dozens in Glacier National Park chalet

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Glacier National Park/National

Park Service/ AP This undated image supplied by Glacier National Park/National Park Service reveals the Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park, Mont.

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017|3:16 p.m.

HELENA, Mont.– A wildfire has cut off the return route for dozens of individuals staying in a Glacier National forest backcountry chalet, leaving them the option of staying until rangers inform them it’s safe or treking out along a longer and harder trail, park officials stated Friday.

Park rangers likewise planned to lead out 39 other hikers who were staying in backcountry camping sites near fires that broke out after a passing lightning storm on Thursday, Glacier spokeswoman Lauren Alley stated.

It’s peak traveler season at the Montana park, and the stone chalet built more than a century earlier is a top attraction in among the busiest parts of Glacier. There are typically between 40 and 50 visitors and 10 employee at the chalet each night, with many visitors arriving by foot or horse along a steep trail almost 7 miles (11 kilometers) from Lake McDonald Lodge on the park’s primary highway.

A lightning strike sparked a fire in the forest someplace in between the lodge and the chalet. Neither structure is threatened, however park authorities determined that it was unsafe for those at the chalet to return by the same path Friday.

Thirty-nine of the 42 visitors staying at the Sperry Chalet decided to trek out and three remained behind, said Suzie Menke, the workplace supervisor of Benton Chalets Inc., which runs the chalet.

They must take a rugged path more than 13 miles (21 kilometers) long that crosses 2 mountain passes and can take eight to 10 hours to walk. That trail winds up on the eastern side of the park, on the other side of the Continental Divide from Lake McDonald Lodge.

For those who remain, the chalet has running water, a full-service kitchen area and 17 personal rooms– but it does not have electricity and just spotty cellular phone protection.

“Fortunately is they got resupplied the other day,” Street stated.

Park authorities confirmed three little fires began after Thursday’s lightning storm. The one affecting Sperry Chalet is the largest at about 10 acres (40,500 square meters).

Regardless of the sudden outbreak of fires, most locations of the park are still open up to the record number of tourists who are flocking to Glacier this year. More than 1 million people checked out the park in July, the first time numerous people have actually remained in Glacier over the course of a single month.

Lots of fires are burning throughout the West, and federal and state fire supervisors planned to raise the National Fire Readiness Level to its highest point on Friday. That Level 5 signals most firefighting resources are being used and that support may be required from military and other nations. The level was last raised to 5 in 2015.

In Oregon, a fire on the Warm Springs Indian Booking destroyed two homes and threatened dozens of others. The fire had burned more than 30 square miles (78 square kilometers) by late Thursday, and one firefighter suffered a minor injury.

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