West Yellowstone residents endure yearly area fires

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BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Fawn Fire has burned over 900 acres in the northern back country of Yellowstone National Park.

Many West Yellowstone businesses received a paper notice of the fire burning just 16 miles away.

"I just hope it doesn't get larger, that they get it under control, because we don't want it to burn here or anywhere, for that matter," said Barbara Terpening, who works in West Yellowstone.

The Fawn Fire has been burning since Friday. Crews are monitoring the fire by air. Usually fire activity increases as temperatures rise, relative humidity drops and gusty winds pick up.

On Tuesday the wind in town was blowing moderately hard. It was blowing in the northbound direction, which means the smoke from the fire was kept at bay.

West Yellowstone residents say the town gets plenty of smoke from fires to the south. Some people saw the Fawn Fire as it began to spread in the back country.

"Coming home from Bozeman on Friday late afternoon I was aware of smoke over in that area," said Marlys Merna, a West Yellowstone resident. "I looked over in that area because I'd been riding up there on horseback the week before."

Park officials say visitors and the surrounding communities should expect varying levels of smoke throughout the day. A few trails and campsites were closed because of the fire as well.

Firefighters even wrapped the Fawn Pass cabin with protective material and turned on sprinkler systems.

While crews continue to work to contain the fire, residents are not too concerned.

"There's a lot of territory between here and there. It's beautiful up there; I'd hate to see it burn, but it's a long ways away still," said Merna.

There have been around nine park fires so far this year. Park officials say five were lightning-caused, while four were human-related.

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