Following an investigation, Yellowstone National Park staff has confirmed that a July 29 structure fire that burned Mount Holmes Fire Lookout was caused by lightning.
The building burned from the top down, indicative of a strike. At this point, park managers do not have plans to rebuild the lookout.
While there, the team also cleaned up the site, got rid of hazards, and repaired a park radio repeater.
Following the cleanup, the Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes was again opened to the public.
The lookout caught on fire during a severe thunderstorm in the area, according to a park press release.
The fire lookout is located southwest of Mammoth Hot Springs and north of Madison Junction in the northern area of the park.
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An employee at the Mount Washburn Fire Lookout spotted and reported the Mount Holmes structure fire. Park employees, including the park fire chief, attempted to fly by helicopter to the 10,000-foot lookout to assess the damage. The flight, however, was postponed as the helicopter was diverted to a higher priority incident outside the park. While en route, the helicopter manager snapped a photo of the burned lookout, which was then only a few charred supports rising from the base.
Built in 1931 and renovated in 1998, the Mount Holmes Fire Lookout was staffed 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 example of the rustic architectural style that typified early park buildings.
The Mount Washburn Fire Lookout is staffed seven days a week, mid-June through mid-September. If warranted, three additional fire lookouts can be staffed in the park.
- The week of July 29, structure fire staff investigated the burned Mount Holmes Fire Lookout, cleaned up the site, and mitigated all of the hazards.
- Staff also repaired the radio repeater.
- The Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes is now open.
- The investigation confirmed that the building burned from the top down due to a lightning strike.
- At this point, park managers do not have plans to rebuild the lookout.