By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Staff at Glacier National Park and Flathead Crimestoppers are investigating multiple suspected arson fires that started in the North Fork area of the park last week.
The North Fork Landowners Association is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone responsible for the fires, according to a news release from the National Park Service.
Early in the morning of July 23, a resident woke rangers at the Polebridge Ranger Station with the report of a nearby fire. Later, the Numa Ridge fire lookout reported smoke near Ford Creek.
Rangers and NPS fire crews eventually found a total of eight fires along the Inside North Fork Road between Logging Creek and Kintla Lake. Most of the fires had begun in dry logs or brush, but one fire destroyed the historic Ford Creek patrol cabin.
The cabin was built as a “snowshoe” cabin in 1928 and was used for decades during winter backcountry patrols. The structure was listed on the National Register of Historical Place for having architectural and historic significance, exemplifying the rustic architecture of early park backcountry structures and the history of Glacier National Park’s development and administration.
The cabin site is around eight miles north of Polebridge.
All the fires were extinguished shortly after being discovered.
On the evening of July 22, suspicious fires were reported at the Glacier Gateway Elementary and the Summit Mountain Lodge at Marias Pass. Investigators are working to see if those fires may be related to the ones on July 23.
Anyone witnessing suspicious activity on the night of July 22 or early morning of July 23 in the Polebridge or North Fork area is encouraged to call Flathead Crimestoppers at 406-752-8477. All calls remain anonymous. Glacier National Park also has a tip line established, 406-888-7077, if someone would like to talk with a park ranger.