Sperry faux pas

Print Article

A Sprague Fire burns on Mount Brown Sunday night. (Chris Peterson photos)

Last Thursday night was breezy and warm and I went to shoot a couple of soccer games as the Wildcats played Bigfork.

Shooting games in Bigfork is kind of fun, because itís a nice drive and Bigforkís fields have some of the best views in maybe the entire West.

The wind was kicking up to more than just a breeze, however, and I knew the Sprague Fire in Glacier would go on a run. So when I got home, I had a quick supper and then went to Glacier National Park to see how things were going.

I didnít check my cell phone or the Internet. I just went up to the Park, blissfully ignorant. The boy and I went for a little hike to kill time before dark and then we headed up the shore of Lake McDonald to get a better look at the fire.

The Sprague Fire has been tough to photograph during the day because of all the smoke in Glacier from other fires, but right about dusk and into the night, it shows itself, sometimes in spectacular fashion.

Thursday was no exception and as I walked down the shoreline, I made a horrible joke to a bunch of photographers who have been watching the fire for weeks.

ďIf you go up here, you can see the Sperry Chalet burning,Ē I said, pointing up the shore.

Then I went around the corner, set up my camera gear and started taking photos.

Little did I know that Sperry Chalet actually had burned down. Everyone knew that, but me. A ranger had come down to the shore and told them a few hours before.

They figured I was a crass jerk, which isnít far from the truth on most days, but on this day, I was innocent.

Honest.

It wasnít until I got home an checked the Internet that I saw the chalet actually did burn down.

A few days later I explained the faux pas to the photographers, who were gathered again at the shore.

They forgave me, but said they wanted to kill me when I first spouted off.

The loss of the chalet was punch in the gut, to say the least.

For weeks, fire managers had been saying they were confident the chalet was safe, so I assumed it was. The loss of the chalet brings up a host of questions, of course.

But I find absolutely no fault with the firefighting effort on the ground and in the air at the time. Having experienced a building surrounded by flames Ė during the Robert Fire of 2003 Ė I know firsthand how difficult it can be.

I recall the smoke, not the fire, being the worst of it. Imagine stepping directly into the center of a huge campfire. Now take a deep breath and keep your eyes open. Thatís what it was like. You can barely function, nevermind fight a fire.

What we need now is a big dose of patience.

Once Mother Nature puts out the Sprague Fire, letís shine a full investigative light on what happened at Sperry and see if itís really feasible to save the beloved chalet.

We owe that to future generations of Glacier Park visitors.

Chris Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News.

Print Article

Read More Columns

Wildlife after a fire

September 13, 2017 at 8:45 am | Hungry Horse News So it was just getting dark and I was busy setting up cameras along the shore of Lake McDonald, waiting for the big run of the Sprague Creek Fire. Everything was going fairly smoothly, which is to sa...

Comments

Read More

Fire Stuff and Things

September 13, 2017 at 8:53 am | Hungry Horse News Wild fires are all the news now and like everyone, Iím ready for snow. Much public criticism of Glacier Parkís handling of Sperry Chalet loss, some justified others questionable. In my 11 years of fo...

Comments

Read More

We need to manage our forests

September 08, 2017 at 9:46 am | Hungry Horse News Montanaís crisis isnít too much water or hurricanes Ė itís fire. Itís smoke filling Big Sky Country and filling our lungs, communities being evacuated, structures lost and tons of fuels just lying on...

Comments

Read More

A threatening fire season

September 06, 2017 at 10:08 am | Hungry Horse News The smoke persists. Glacier Park is on fire, along with many other places in Montana. Until this week the entire North Fork was spared except for a minimal risk from the Gibralter Fire across the Whi...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2017 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X