Officials Saturday reopened a popular visitors center in Yellowstone National Park that was closed a week ago by a series of wildfires that have destroyed 155,000 acres.
Officials, stung by a steep drop in tourism attributed to the fires, decided to reopen the Grant Village Center after it was determined there no longer was any danger to the southern portion of the park in northwest Wyoming."Things are pretty much back to normal," said park spokeswoman Linda Miller, "although some road closures in the south section are still in force."
Grants Village Center was closed last week, and tourism dropped by 20,000 visitors a day during the worst fire season in the 116-year history of the Wyoming park.
The last of the Yellowstone fires, which have destroyed 155,917 of the park's 2.2 million acres, continued to burn harmlessly Saturday in remote areas.
Officials said dry storms with lightning and little rain were forecast, but conditions improved Saturday, adding to the general optimism of park officials.
In Alaska, 1,000 firefighters continued battling 11 of 44 fires that have burned over 1.8 million acres of forest. Most of the blazes were burning in remote areas and posed no threat.
A fire north of where the trans-Alaska oil pipeline crosses the Yukon River grew to almost 12,000 acres but was stopped four miles west of the pipeline.
In Oregon, cool weather helped crews contain stubborn blazes burning timber and logging in the Cascades and on the Makah Indian Reservation near the northwest corner of the state.
"The clouds have helped us a lot," said spokesman Rick Cordoza of a fire near a logging operation. "We are still on steep ground, and it is hazardous working in the felled and bucked timber. Our main priority is safety."
California, ravaged a year ago by its worst forest fires in history, remained relatively free of blazes this year. Saturday, officials reported only one small fire burning about 10 miles north of Lake Shasta.
Meanwhile, almost 2,000 firefighters and support personnel continued to battle the flames in the park, concentrating their efforts on the 20,400-acre North Fork Fire, which burned close to the Old Faithful geyser; the Shoshone fire that had threatened Grant Village, and the 16,650-acre Fan fire in the park's northwest corner.
Firefighters burned off downed timber in an effort to push the North Fork Fire into an area where it can be more easily controlled.
Yellowstone's firefighting costs have reached $12.7 million.