All summer long, national parks have been lit up, shut down, and damaged by destructive wildfires. Now, it seems the trend has continued into fall.
The golden aspens-covered Tetons were inaccessible to some on Sunday as a wildfire—dubbed the Roosevelt Fire—exploded southeast of Grand Teton National Park. Burning in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, it shut down the main road from the south heading into Jackson, Wyoming, which serves as the gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Officials don’t expect the fire to reach the parks, but it’s yet another reminder of how this wildfire season continues unabated.
The Roosevelt Fire grew rapidly on Sunday and forced the closure of Highway 189 and 191, a route that connects Jackson and the town of Pinedale to the south. It also led to evacuations of communities to the south of Jackson as winds up of 50 mph fanned the flames over drought-parched land. As of Saturday, the fire was just over 39,000 acres and 24 percent contained, but it’s unclear what size it was by Monday morning.
“Due to extreme fire behavior, we do not have current acreage for the Roosevelt fire,” Inciweb, the clearinghouse for U.S. wildfire information, wrote in an update.
The National Interagency Fire Center, however, has the fire listed at 39,283 acres as of Monday morning. 800 crew members are currently battling to contain it.
Wildfires have been the story out West for yet another summer as heat and dry vegetation keep forests in an agitated state. Rising temperatures driven by climate change are making intense, large wildfires more common and stretching the edges of wildfire season longer. While Grand Teton is being spared the direct impacts of this fire, we’ve seem fires shut down Yosemite and Glacier national parks as well as Glacier’s Canadian counterpart.
Parks are on the front lines of climate change, and rangers are racing to come up with a plan for how to prepare them for hot, drier future (or at least they were until the Trump administration took over). As fires light up inside their boundaries or cut them off from the tourists who love them, the fight will only take on more urgency.