Specially equipped helicopters are scooping thousands of gallons of water from Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park to fight the Howe Ridge Fire.

Fire Information Officer Diane Sine said the fire has grown to about 2,600 acres.

“There was a little bit of growth yesterday and quite frankly we expect greater growth today based on the weather forecast,” said Sine. “We are expecting warmer temperature and an increase in the winds. The helicopter that we are using today is the K-Max, a type one heavy helicopter designed for lifting heavy loads. It has a bucket that hangs down below it and it scoops water out of Lake McDonald and then the helicopter travels to the areas where it needs to cool down along the edge of the fire.”

Sine said there are other resources available is weather permits,

“We also have two CL 215 super scoopers, and they’re the one who weren’t able to fly yesterday, and they fly down and actually skim the surface of Lake McDonald to scoop up water and then dump it on the fire.”

Sine said no other structures have been destroyed since Sunday evening, and no one has been injured either fighting the fire or in the evacuation efforts.

One important fact Sine relayed was that a fire is only taking up a small portion of the park, and the rest of Glacier is open.

“People should be reminded that we’ve been experiencing record visitation these couple of years, and even though we’ve had the fire limiting access to the Lake McDonald area, we’ve had record numbers of people in the park. We’ve been experiencing overcrowding in some areas and the parking situation at Logan Pass, so visitors are going to need to be flexible and they’re going to have to evaluate where the crowds are and where they can find places to park.”

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