Y'stone fires expected to stay away from tourists


CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Allaying concerns from tourists and campers, a National Park Service official says a wildfire burning in the heart of Yellowstone National Park is expected to stay away from major tourist areas during the busy Labor Day weekend.

"We haven't seen a lot of activity or any growth on any of the fires in Yellowstone in recent days," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said Thursday. "And this includes the Alum Fire which is located northwest of the Fishing Bridge area. We don't expect a lot of activity from any of these fires in the coming days."

The Alum Fire, one of four burning in the park, has charred about 11 square miles. It's burning on the ridge about 5 miles northwest of Fishing Bridge Junction on the north side of Yellowstone Lake. Fishing Bridge, Lake Village and Bridge Bay are major tourist spots in the area.

All park campgrounds, lodging, stores, service stations, restaurants and other facilities are open, Nash said.

"All the roads in and to the park are open," he said. "We have some very limited backcountry closures in response to the fires, but they impact a very small percentage of our visitors."

While the Alum Fire is not expected to move toward Fishing Bridge, Lake Village or Bridge Bay, firefighters have done extensive work to ensure the protection of the areas should the fire make an unexpected move.

Nash said Yellowstone has received calls from some worried and confused people about the fire situation in the park.

"Once we explain that this is Yellowstone in Wyoming and tell them about our current fire activity we are able to allay their concerns," he said. "Some people get us mixed up with Yosemite in California."

Firefighters have been battling a large wildfire that has burned more than 300 square miles around Yosemite National Park.

Nash said Yellowstone typically sees visitors from around the world on Labor Day weekend.

"But when we have a favorable weather forecast like we do for this weekend, we often see a significant influx of people from the immediate region who choose to wrap their summer activities with Labor Day in Yellowstone," he said. "I would have every expectation that you will see more Wyoming, Montana and Idaho license plates in the park this weekend."