Montana Firefighters Battle Park Inferno

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) -- Firefighters battling a massive blaze in Glacier National Park planned a big push Wednesday before unruly weather rolled in, officials said.

Fire managers were worried a dry cold front expected Thursday and Friday could stir up the 38,600-acre fire, fire information officer Margo Whitt said. Crews worked to protect homes and campgrounds along Lake McDonald that were evacuated earlier this week.

Scores of other fires _ mostly sparked by lightning _ burned across central and western Montana, stretching fire crews thin. In the Missoula area, thick smoke forced high school sports teams to practice indoors.

At Yellowstone National Park, a 2,700-acre wildfire crept within one-eighth mile of the east entrance, which was closed overnight Tuesday. It reopened Wednesday morning, but park officials said the route could be closed again if driving became too dangerous.

Water-dropping helicopters fought the fire from the air, and ground firefighting crews had been requested. The fire wasn't threatening structures, but the crews will work to keep the fire from spreading closer to the road, officials said.

In Washington state, firefighters finished encircling the state's largest wildfire. Rehabilitation of the 81,343-acre burn area could include dropping bales of hay near streams to prevent erosion from hillsides denuded by the fire, spokesman Tom Knappenberger said Tuesday.

Fire managers hoped to begin turning over firefighting efforts to Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forest crews as mop-up efforts continued and rehabilitation efforts begin, he said.

Managers declared the fire 100 percent contained late Tuesday, spokesman Mike Ferris said.

In the Bighorn National Forest in north-central Wyoming, crews tried to hold ground against the 700-acre Little Horn Two fire, which threatened to rain embers onto 20 evacuated cabins.

The cabins were fireproofed with water pumps and hoses and combustible materials were removed from roofs, gutters and around the homes. More firefighters were to be brought in Wednesday.

Hot temperatures were also predicted to continue, with little relief in sight.

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