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YELLOWSTONE PARK READIES FOR BATTLE AS WILDFIRE INCINERATES 100 ACRES

SHARE YELLOWSTONE PARK READIES FOR BATTLE AS WILDFIRE INCINERATES 100 ACRES

A forest fire on Mount Washburn in northeast Yellowstone National Park has grown to about 100 acres and is spreading while park authorities mobilize all their resources to fight it, a park official said Friday.

The fire, probably caused by lightning, was reported about 4 p.m. Thursday by the Mount Washburn fire lookout as strong winds fanned flames and sent sparks out ahead of the main fire, said park spokeswoman Marsha Karle.Forest Service smokejumpers reached the fire late Thursday and worked through the night preparing the area for 230 firefighters who converged on the blaze Friday morning, she said.

The National Park Service summoned all available firefighters from Yellowstone and neighboring Grand Teton National Park, plus four strike teams from the Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Fort Peck Indian reservations in Montana, Karle said.

With hand tools and the aid of one helicopter, they will fight the fire until it is contained, she said.

Southeast winds of 10 to 20 mph and temperatures in the lower 80s forecast for Friday afternoon were hampering the effort. But, Karle said, the fire was spreading east toward the Yellowstone River and north toward an area that burned two years ago, which may help contain the blaze.

All fires in Yellowstone are being fought from the moment they are detected under current policy while the park's fire management plan - suspended after the disastrous fires of 1988 - is being revised.

Several fires that started early in the summer of 1988 were allowed to burn unchecked under the plan's "natural burn" provision, but they eventually spread into uncontrollable blazes that consumed nearly 800,000 acres of the 2.2 million-acre park.