A forest fire in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park doubled in size to more than 2,500 acres and was within nine miles of Old Faithful geyser today, while a 23,100-acre blaze in the nearby Teton Wilderness appeared to be slowing down.
About 40,000 acres of Yellowstone have been burned by several fires, including 31,500 acres charred by the Clover Mist fire in the eastern half of the 2.2-million-acre park, said park spokeswoman Joan Anzelmo.
"These are conditions that we haven't seen in the recorded history of Yellowstone," she said.
The park's south entrance, a hotel and two campgrounds were closed because of other fires and crews were hosing down some roofs to protect them from sparks.
Other Western States
Hot, dry weather also helped fan flames over thousands of acres of trees and brush in Washington state, Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.
Fire strategists met in Yellowstone at Old Faithful today to map out battle plans against fires in and around the nation's oldest park.
"They have so many fires going on right now in Yellowstone, they have to make some decisions on where to put their resources," said Lisa Lew, spokeswoman for the adjacent Targhee National Forest in Idaho.
Along the west side of Yellowstone, the 2,500-acre North Fork blaze fed on insect-killed trees in prime grizzly bear habitat on an isolated plateau and was within nine miles of Old Faithful.
"It's burning in that bug-kill lodgepole (pine forest) that's just dead wood and real dry," said John Quackenbush, a helicopter pilot working on the fire. "It's really cookin.' "
Blown by Wind
The fire, believed to be man-caused, started Friday just across the Idaho border in the Targhee National Forest. Wind blew it quickly into Yellowstone.
The southern end of the 23,100-acre Mink Creek fire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Teton Wilderness in Wyoming was about 90% contained, but officials worried today that a wind shift could push the flames into dense stands of timber, fire information officer Ed Waldapfel said.
The northern end of that fire, which was started by lightning in late June, had crossed Yellowstone's boundary into a back-country region and firefighters were trying to keep it from advancing.
The south entrance to Yellowstone, along with the Grant Village Hotel and two campgrounds, were closed because of other fires. Two fires along the shores of Lewis and Shoshone lakes were less than one mile from Grant Village today.