The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Sperry Chalet burned Bear Paw Fire is looking better


September 6, 2017

There was big fire news on two fronts last week. The East Fork fire led by a wind from hell got out of containment and went every which way all week long. Monday, September 4 was the first time in over a week that there was not a smoke smell on the prairie and a person could see all the way to Baldy from US 87.

The fire started on the Warrick road just before getting to the Dumas summer ranch. From there it went into reservation for a little way but mainly roared down Little Box Elder Creek. Seldom did the fire get west of Beaver Creek and it never got east of Clear Creek but it sure made a mess of many acres in-between those two creeks.

Five cabins were destroyed on Beaver Creek Park and several outbuildings. Several more cabins were scorched and in various states of repair. No ranchers lost houses but many lost livestock and one large rancher on Clear Creek lost 90 percent of his pasture ground.

The fire was erratic and jumped around, sometimes following those erratic winds and often making its own wind.

Two crack fire teams were here fighting the fire and there was a huge staging area at Kiwanis Camp and a smaller one at the Bear Paw Lake Pavilion. This fire will have many hot spots for a long time and should be viewed as very dangerous yet. It will take the winter snows to put it out. In the meantime exercise extreme caution in the Bear Paw Mountains. They are as dry as they have ever been!

In Glacier National Park the Sprague Creek complex of tiny fires were not fought due to the difficulty in getting to them. Over a hundred firefighters were observing the fire and making sure it did not get out of hand. When hand. Well, when looking the other way, the fire did get out of control and burned down the main lodge of the famous Sperry Chalet. For thousands of Glacier lovers, it was like

losing a loved one. That old Chalet had been there since probably around 1913 and was a delight. That is has burned is not a good testament to the way fires are fought in Glacier.

On the bright side, there is a move afoot already to get donations enough to rebuild that grand old building.

On Sunday afternoon highway 200 was closed due to a fire east of Lincoln. That fire was still burning well into Monday morning.

The Seeley Lake fire is still very much an out of control fire. Too bad for the people of Seeley Lake some of whom have been evacuated but most of whom are suffering from various breathing ailments due to all the smoke.

This is a very dangerous time to be living in Montana. Be very careful where you travel and that you do not cause any more fires. Stay out of smoky situations if you can.


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