Lone Star fire

An aerial view of the Lone Star fire in Yellowstone National Park.

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It was not warm or dry at Old Faithful on Monday, but the dash of cold won’t be enough to get rid of the fire burning south of Yellowstone National Park’s most famous geyser.

Clayton Hanson, a fire spokesperson, said while the cool weather was expected to limit fire activity, it wasn’t going to provide enough moisture to put out the Lone Star fire, which has now burned about 960 acres.

“The expected precipitation totals from this storm aren’t season ending,” Hanson said, “so we do expect the fire to hold some heat in its interior.”

The weather is also expected to heat back up later this week, with high temperatures at Old Faithful forecast to climb back into the 70s.

The fire has been burning for nine days now. It’s about three miles south of Old Faithful, between there and Shoshone Lake. It was started by lightning, and fire managers have been letting it play its role in the ecosystem — chewing up trees that haven’t burned in a long time.

It reached more than 800 acres within a few days and then held fairly steady until this past weekend. The size estimate had increased to 960 acres as of Monday morning.

It’s been creeping along, filling in unburned pockets within its perimeter. So far it hasn’t made any sort of run toward Old Faithful, but officials are still concerned about how close it is to the developed area.

Crews there have done a lot of work to protect historic buildings, a cell phone tower and the area’s water treatment plant. On Sunday they thinned trees near cabins behind Snow Lodge. Hanson said crews planned to do some work around power lines Monday, weather permitting.

The fire initially prompted a closure of the Grand Loop Road from Old Faithful to West Thumb, but the road has since reopened. However, several trailheads along the road remain closed, including Howard Eaton, Lone Star Geyser, DeLacy Creek and the Divide Trail.

A total of 49 people were assigned to the fire Monday. The daily situation report from the National Interagency Fire Center estimated the cost of the fire so far at more than $500,000.

The coming change in weather has resulted in a red flag fire warning for much of Montana, including Gallatin County, for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638.

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