Glacier park wildfire expands to 17 square miles

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A new, infrared flight overnight shows the Howe Ridge Fire has grown 1,837 acres in the last couple of days, to now cover 11,172 acres.

Unsettled weather, including strong winds from the northeast, caused growth on the southwestern flank of a fire burning in Glacier National Park.

Officials say the Howe Ridge Fire has burned over 17 square miles since it was sparked by lightning on Aug. 11. The fire grew by nearly 5 square miles from Saturday night to Monday night.

The fire is burning in lodgepole pine trees that grew after fires in 2001 and 2003, but is also fueled by downed logs and dead trees.

Officials say gusty afternoon winds are possible through the rest of the week, with the best chance of measurable precipitation coming next Sunday or Monday.

The fire has burned 13 homes and 14 other structures north of Lake McDonald and has cost $1.8 million to fight.

Bold, red lines on the new infrared map out Tuesday morning show the new fire growth. The black lines show where the fire was at last check.

Interpreters say the perimeter mostly grew to the southwest, between Lake McDonald and Christensen Meadows toward McGee Meadow, and to the north, with most of the intense heat along these fronts. Other growth is northeast of Lake McDonald to the east of Stanton Mountain. There were also areas of intense heat in this growth area to the northeast.

Scattered heat filled most of the rest of the perimeter.

Isolated heat sources were mapped in the cooler areas to the east.

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