Glacier National Park, once home to 150 glaciers, is on fire. The fire was sparked by lightning storms in the middle of the stunning, 1-million-square-acre preserve near Montana’s border with Canada.
The fire began on Saturday, according to local newspaper the Daily Inter Lake, in an area toward the north of the park called Howe Ridge. On Sunday, Canadian “superscooper” airplanes scooped water from nearby Lake McDonald to dump on the flames for four hours, but it wasn’t enough to stop the fire. Combined with heavy winds, the fire continued to spread and park officials made the decision to evacuate parts of the park, including a popular campground.
“This evacuation impacts about 50 individuals who own private homes, several National Park Service employees residing at the Lake McDonald Ranger Station, and campers at the 87-site Avalanche Creek Campground,” a press release stated.
Over the weekend, the park experienced its hottest day on record with a high of 100 F, and the hot, dry weather is expected to continue, making the fires even more difficult to contain. Wildfires have been ravaging American west this summer, largely due to the effects of climate change. In Glacier Park, warming temperatures have also caused the park’s namesake, its vast glaciers, to recede dramatically in recent years. In 1850, more than 150 glaciers existed in the park, but by 2015, only 26 active glaciers remained, according to the US Geological Survey.
It’s hard to imagine a more on-the-nose metaphor for the devastating impacts of climate change than watching a glacier park burn.
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