A historic lodge built by “Buffalo Bill” Cody more than a century ago was in the path of a spreading wildfire outside of Yellowstone National Park on Thursday.
The last guests evacuated Tuesday from Pahaska Tepee Resort, three miles east of the park. Large sprinklers were set up around the smoke-choked resort, and firefighters covered the edges of the original Buffalo Bill lodge with heavy foil.
The lodge, built in 1904 by William F. Cody, is on the National Register of Historic Places and is now part of the resort. The flames were about three miles away on Thursday afternoon.
The forecast called for lower temperatures and lighter wind, but the wildfire was expected to keep growing eastward toward the resort. The fire, started by lightning Aug. 9, has blackened about 17,000 acres, more than 26 square miles.
Nearly all the resort’s staff left Wednesday, and co-owner Angela Coe said she expected to evacuate soon.
“This is a whole different deal from the other fires in that the other fires, they had a lot of helicopters and a lot of resources fighting it,” Coe said. “This one, they haven’t had a lot of resources.
“Now it’s really big. But it’s a little late for our area, I think,” she said.
Fire information officer Jill Cobb said that 167 people were fighting the fire in different ways, and that more crews were expected. She acknowledged that people and equipment have been slow coming.
“Though this is a high priority, there are a lot of high priorities across the West right now,” she said.
Four other fires were burning around Yellowstone but didn’t threaten to close any roads or facilities.
'It's going to hurt business'
Cody was a prospector-turned-Pony Express rider and Civil War veteran who later hunted buffalo to feed railroad construction crews. According to legend, he earned the name Buffalo Bill in a daylong shooting match with a hunter named William Comstock, presumably to determine who deserved the title.
In Montana, a large wildfire burned to the northern edge of the Teton Pass Ski Area. The fire, in the Lewis and Clark and the Flathead national forests, had blackened 42,614 acres, or about 66 square miles, and none of the blaze was contained, fire information officer Rebeca Franco said.
“People will drive up there and see burned trees” this winter, said Jonathan Stoltz, an owner in the ski area. “It’s going to hurt business.”
More than a dozen large wildfires burned in Montana on Thursday. Southeast of Missoula, one fire kept away residents of nearly 80 homes and cabins, though people were allowed brief visits to check on their property. The blaze is part of a larger complex of fires that was at 41,705 acres, or about 65 square miles, on Thursday.
In the Seeley Lake area northeast of Missoula, most of the hundreds of people evacuated more than a week ago because of a threatening wildfire were back in their homes, information officer Pete Buist said Thursday.