Yellowstone National Park, Wyo., USA — The park’s east entrance will remain closed today a park spokesman said, after a wind-driven wildfire forced the closure Sunday.
About 25 miles of the road was closed Sunday afternoon to a point near Fishing Bridge on the north side of Yellowstone Lake, park spokesman Al Nash said.
Until the east gate is reopened, travelers from Cody must detour 29 miles through Montana to enter the park.
The fire, which was started by lightning last Thursday, grew from an estimated 2,500 acres on Saturday to an estimated 12,000 acres, or about 18 square miles, on Sunday.
Nash said the east entrance would remain closed temporarily throughout today.
“As of this morning, the fire is near the East Entrance Road. It has not yet crossed it,” Nash said. “But it is too close, and the forecast calls for extremely active fire behavior today. So due to the threat of the fire to the road, it will remain temporarily closed.”
Nash said the head of the fire is about three miles west of the park’s east entrance.
“The structures closest to the head of the fire would be our East Entrance Station, and our facilities that support that east entrance,” he said.
Nash said the Park Service had prepared its staff for possible evacuation from the East Entrance should it prove necessary.
The fire was caused by a lightning strike last week and has been spreading to the north and northeast, Nash said. He said it’s burning in lodgepole and spruce/fir forest.
“We know that the east entrance is busy this time of year, and that this is going to have an impact on people who want to travel that direction in and out of the park,” Nash said. He said all other roads and entrances in the park are open.
Through July, more than 208,000 visitors passed through the park’s east entrance this year.