By Stacey Leasca
August 15, 2018
Chris Peterson/Hungry Horse News via AP

A lightning strike in Glacier National Park in Montana sparked a fire over the weekend that has forced the evacuation of visitors and has destroyed several private homes and historic buildings, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

The fire, now dubbed The Howe Ridge fire, has so far claimed seven private summer residences, according to the Tribune, along with a nearby cabin, three outbuildings at a National Park Service-owned residence, and two boathouses.

Current Conditions at Glacier National Park

The National Park Service described the fire as “extreme.” By Monday afternoon, USA Today reported, the fire had already burned between 1,500 to 2,500 acres.

“This is a heartbreaking time at the park,” Park Supt. Jeff Mow shared in a statement. “We’ve lost extremely important historic buildings that tell a piece of the park’s story, and multiple people have lost homes that have welcomed their families to the shores of Lake McDonald for generations.”

Wildfires have burned through a combined 30 square miles in Montana so far this year, NBC reported. The Howe Ridge fire is just one of dozens of fires burning across the West, with California taking the hardest hit in recent weeks.

On Monday, a firefighter was killed while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has now become the largest wildfire in the state’s history, according to NBC. The firefighter, who has not been identified, is now the eleventh person to perish during this year’s wildfire season.

“We are extremely heartbroken from this loss,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Chief Sean Kavanaugh said in a statement.

That fire has now burned an astonishing 350,000 acres across Colusa, Lake, and Mendocino counties in California. Cal Fire reported that the fires are becoming more contained, although still raging.

“It will take weeks to get full containment on some of these larger fires,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox told NBC.

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