Fire Closes South Yellowstone Entrance

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Highway 89 connecting the Grand Teton National Forest to south Yellowstone is closed because of a forest fire. News 13’s Landon Harrar shows us what the fire is currently is doing and how it's affecting tourism.
Fire officials closed the highway after strong winds and high temperatures let the fire jump across Jackson Lake.
“It crossed the road, again about an hour after it crossed the lake it was burning across the road with about a hundred foot flame lengths so both sides of the road had fire on it for approximately a mile and a half,” said Ron Steffens, Grand Teton Fire Analyst.
The road is still closed not because of fire, but because of burned trees.
Brian Lawatch a Fire Information Officer said, “there’s hazard trees on the road, there’s trees that could fall down and they’re also trying to manage that fire and suppress where appropriate along the road corridor especially to be able to get that road open, be able to get the businesses back open and be able to get people through to Yellowstone National Park.”
Tourists who planned trips expecting the highway to be open now have to travel through Idaho to get to Yellowstone.
“They have intention of going to Grand Teton and then continuing on to Yellowstone and many people will book a few nights here and then a few nights in Yellowstone and their intention is not to have to go around,” said Monica Sahasrabudhe, Elk Refuge Inn Manager.
“It is a pretty significant inconvenience, people are having to re-route around to west Yellowstone by going around the Tetons, up to Ashton, Idaho and then on to west Yellowstone, it can put a couple of more hours on your trip but people have been doing it,” explained Lawatch.
Thousands of people travel Highway 89 every day.
“Average summer day we sort of think of ten thousand and so the estimate I heard this year is that in a typical month in this busy summer, the centennial summer roughly a million people a month have been going north or south across this route,” said Steffens.
Lightning started the fire covering more than twelve thousand acres July 25th.
Fire officials said fires are inconvenient when they burn, but without them the forest would be mundane and not nearly as healthy for wildlife.