HELENA, Mont. – The much-needed rain fell in Montana on Monday and slowed the spread of a fire burning near the U.S.-Canada border enough for Canadian officials to lift an evacuation order last week for the water ton Lakes National Park.
The rain has suppressed, but not extinguished 3 square miles (8 square km) blaze burning in the northern part of the Glacier National Park and threatening water ton Lakes a year after another fire swept through the Alberta park.
“They got almost ¾ of an inch of rain in the past 24 (hours) … in early this morning,” said Rocky Gilbert, the chief of operations for the Southwest Incident Management Team leading the firefighting efforts, in a video update Monday morning. “Hopefully things will be looking pretty good on the fire with the rain.”
Parks Canada officials said in a statement Monday that most of last week’s closures have been lifted for water ton park trails, backcountry campsites, and waterways.
It was the second consecutive year the park has been evacuated because of a fire. A 2017 blaze burned over a large part of the park, destroying the infrastructure, and that more than 80 percent of the trails.
The rain has also delayed other fire burning in the Glacier in the vicinity of Lake McDonald that was previously destroyed 14 houses and 13 other structures. Evacuations there on the place to remain and officials said Monday, there is the possibility of a wind-driven fire activity later in the week with drier weather arrives.
Crews for fighting fires in the whole country in the same way reported rain of the weekend means it glows in check.
The rain was expected to continue through Monday night, with snow forecast for elevations above 6,000 feet (1,830 meters) in the Glacier National Park and in western Montana, according to the National Weather Service.
Between 1 and 4 inches (2.5 centimeters and 10 centimeters) of snow could fall in the mountains, and up to 10 inches (25 cm) may fall on the highest peaks near the Canadian border.
Approximately 950 fires burned 106 square miles (274 square km) so far this year in Montana, only 5 percent of the land that burned across the state from last year’s record-setting season.