As Teton fire winds down, new fire breaks out in Yellowstone
JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) – Some residents returned to their mountain homes in the Jackson Hole valley Monday, but others had to wait until firefighters could better contain the wildfire burning for the past nine days near this trendy resort.
Meanwhile, a wildfire in Yellowstone National Park closed one of the park’s five entrances and threatened employee housing and other buildings. It was also headed toward the popular Pahaska Tepee resort, which features a hunting lodge built in 1904 by Buffalo Bill Cody.
Pahaska Tepee, which is a mile east of the Yellowstone entrance, sent its roughly 100 guests elsewhere to stay, but by late afternoon the winds shifted and an evacuation order appeared less imminent, said resort owner Angela Coe.
Employees were setting up sprinklers to moisten the trees around buildings and cabins as smoke poured into the area.
”It’s mellowed for now but we’re still in harm’s way,” Coe said.
Retardant and water were dropped on the 900-acre Yellowstone fire and buildings were being defended, park spokeswoman Marsha Karle.
Resources were being added, spokeswoman Cheryl Matthews said. Tuesday’s forecast called for lower winds and cool temperatures, she said.
”We have to take it on a day-to-day basis,” Matthews said. ”The weather is promising for (Tuesday).”
Southwest of Jackson, a stubborn wildfire considered 70 percent contained remained Monday at an estimated 4,470 acres. Earlier, the fire had come within several feet of some homes, but none of the more than 100 homes threatened over the last week was destroyed.
Firefighters were monitoring for spot fires that caused concern, especially in one subdivision where houses sell for an average $1 million.
Fire officials were confident enough to tell some of the estimated 150 residents forced out by the fire that they could go home – a first since last Wednesday for many of those evacuees. The remaining residents were expected to return later in the week.
Marilyn Zumberge was ready to go home. ”I’m eager to get back to my own bed to sleep,” said Zumberge, who had stayed in a Jackson motel. ”I’m not afraid (to return), no.”
Mike Calabrese said he was ”disappointed, not downtrodden” that he wouldn’t be returning home immediately. But he wasn’t second-guessing the judgment of fire officials. ”If we have to stay out a month, that’s the way it goes,” he said.
Lisa Warner agreed safety needed to come first. ”The fact that the house is still there is humbling,” she said. ”Between the firefighters and God, it was a joint effort.”
The smoke plume from the fire thinned over Jackson Hole, the 40-mile-long valley ringed by jagged mountain peaks that is the gateway to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. North of Jackson, the Tetons were visible.
The fire started July 22 from an apparent escaped campfire in a recreation area and has cost $6.8 million to fight so far.
The fact that no homes were lost wasn’t so much luck, fire information officer Bobby Kitchens said. ”It was darn good firefighting,” he said.
Crews were expected to remain on the fire line Monday night to strengthen it, fire information officer Andy Schlosberg said. Favorable weather conditions were forecast for Tuesday and officials hoped for total containment within days, he said.
Elsewhere, firefighters were working to stop the spread of a 2,500-acre fire in Washington state that had already claimed a house and two vacation trailers and forced the evacuation of nearly three dozen other homes.
The wildfire, burning brush, scrub grass and scattered pine trees, threatened another 70 homes.
About 500 firefighters were on the scene Monday, using seven helicopters and six planes to dump water and fire retardants. The fire was heading north, away from Chelan, a central Washington resort town.
In California, fire crews completed fire line around 80 percent of the 3,560-acre Stream fire in the Sierra Nevada.
On the Net:
Teton fire: http://www.tetonfires.com
National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov
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