Bacon Rind fire

The Bacon Rind fire has burned more than 4,200 acres in Yellowstone National Park and the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

The fire burning in the northwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park came back to life last week, reminding people that it's still bumbling about in the woods south of Big Sky. 

Fire officials estimated the perimeter of the Bacon Rind fire at 4,276 acres on Sunday. It's burning about 20 miles south of Big Sky partially in the park and partially on Forest Service land in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness.

Marianne Baumberger, a fire spokeswoman, said the blaze has climbed into a few different creek drainages and that most of the growth has come in its northwestern corner.

"It's just kind of moving around on the surface," she said. "Once in a while it might hit a tree and pop up."

Its growth comes as balmy summer weather returns, bringing with it high temperatures and strong winds. Yellowstone officials upgraded fire danger in the park to "very high," citing continued warm and dry weather with "no significant cooling in sight."

Aside from the Bacon Rind fire, there have yet to be any other large blazes in Yellowstone. The next largest is the Basin Creek fire, which has burned an estimated 19 acres. Several fires of less than an acre have also burned in the park this year.

Bacon Rind could be on the landscape a while longer, especially if the warm and dry weather persists. Winds are expected, and that could dry out fire fuels and facilitate more growth. But Baumberger said shorter days and the potential for a taste of winter to arrive any day could snuff it out.

"We'll know in October," she said. 

Its fresh energy put up a tall column of smoke last week. Baumberger said the column could be seen from Big Sky.

It has burned into the Snowslide and Monument creek drainages. On the southwestern side, it has run into an old burn scar. Baumberger said it's bumped up against the Rathbone fire, which burned in the area in 2003. She said it's slowed the Bacon Rind and that it's been interesting to see where the new fire collides with the old. 

"That's kind of what fires do naturally in the ecosystem," she said. "That creates kind of a varied-age forest."

There are 67 people working the Bacon Rind fire, Baumberger said, including a 20-person hand crew, several engines and one helicopter. She said they are watching its activity and preparing to protect private land on the north side should it get there eventually. 

Staffing the fire has cost nearly $3 million, according to the National Situation Report for Monday

It also prompted new area closures there. Access to the Gallatin River between the park boundary and Fawn Pass is closed, meaning no fishing on the park section of the stream. Baumberger said the closure is precautionary as the fire burns to the north.

Trails 151 and 191 in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness are closed, too.

A portion of Fawn Pass Trail has been reopened. It is now open from its intersection with Bighorn Pass Trail to the east.

A community meeting on the fire is planned for 7 p.m., Wednesday at the Community Protestant Church in West Yellowstone.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1. 

Michael Wright covers the environment and wildlife issues for the Chronicle.