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Firefighters Letting Druid Complex Burn in Yellowstone National Park

druid complex
Photo courtesy of YellowstoneNPS/Flickr

Montana is famous for having a tough fire season, but although helicopters and line crews are a regular sight around wildfires like the Lolo Creek Complex, things are done differently at Yellowstone National park.

“It’s a thrill in Yellowstone to be a firefighter, because we let fire play its natural role in creating the landscape of the park,” said Yellowstone Park Fire Information Officer Jon Kohn. “Yellowstone is a product of fire. When I look out my window, all of the trees on the hillside are the same height, because they were born from the same fire 150 to 200 years ago.”

Right now, the Druid Complex is still burning on nearly 12, 000 acres. The blaze poses concerns for many travelers.

“It’s like being in a maternity ward,” Kohn said. “There is some frustration and potential anxiety for visitors which we are here to dispel. There’s some flexibility required, but they are also able to attend the birth of a new landscape. Visitors have great air quality and visibility here. Clouds and rain have kept a lid on the five fires. They haven’t effected any of the main visitor areas of the park.”

The Druid Complex was composed of three fires, but recent rains and high humidity have reduced the complex to just two large wildfires. The complex was created from lightning strikes.

According to Kohn, nearly 90 percent of the park’s fires are lightning caused. In the state of Montana, by contrast, only about 50 percent of fires are lightning caused, the rest are started by human activity.

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