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Historic Yellowstone fire lookout burns down


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The burned Mount Holmes Fire Lookout viewed from a helicopter. | Jessica Page, NPS

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – The Mount Holmes Fire Lookout burned to the ground Tuesday after being struck by lightning from a severe thunderstorm.

A park employee who staffs the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout saw and reported the Mount Holmes Lookout fire late Tuesday afternoon, the park said in a news release.

On Wednesday, three employees, including the park fire chief, tried to fly to the 10,00-foot lookout south of Mammoth Hot Springs and north of Madison Junction to assess the damage. The flight, however, was diverted to another incident outside the park, but the helicopter manager did snap a photo of the damage. Officials found the fire had also damaged a park radio repeater.

Staff has not been able to make it to the lookout yet due to the high winds, the park said Wednesday evening.

Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes are closed due to safety concerns.

“Built in 1931, and renovated in 1998, the Mount Holmes Fire Lookout maintained its historic-era role as one of Yellowstone National Park’s staffed lookout stations until 2007. The building was eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, both for its significance in early park resource protection efforts, and as an outstanding example of the rustic architectural style that typified early park architecture. We are disappointed that this historic structure, as a window into the past, is gone,” said Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Pat Kenney in the news release.

The Mount Washburn Fire Lookout is currently staffed seven days a week, mid-June through mid-September. If warranted, three additional lookouts can be staffed.

Top: This undated photo of the Mount Holmes Fire Lookout shows the building in its early days. It is a one story 16-foot by 16-foot building on a concrete foundation and is typical of lookouts built on peaks in Yellowstone during the 1930s, the National Historic Lookout Register says. Bottom: The lookout in 2012. | Courtesy NPS