Investigation Completed in Glacier Park’s Sperry Chalet Fire
The National Park Service released the results of an independent review and investigation of the Sprague Fire that burned the dormitory of the Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park last August.
Branch Chief of Wildland Fire for the National Park Service, Dan Buckley, said the investigation took several months to complete.
“Firefighters had taken several steps to protect the Sperry Chalet complex, including hose and water systems in place for several days, and shelter wrap where it was safe to apply, said Buckley. “Then, they endured an ember shower on August 31st that lasted from 10 in the morning until about 5:30 in the afternoon. They discovered one small fire on the roof of the dining hall which they extinguished. While they were applying water and keeping an eye on the building, they noticed smoke coming out of the second story dormer of the Sperry Chalet.”
Buckley said a single ember was able to embed itself into the dormitory.
“It appears that an ember somehow penetrated the building and started an interior structure fire, and by the time it was discovered, the fire was well seated and had become fully involved.”
Buckley said the firefighters did attempt to put the fire out.
“The firefighters did try to make entry into the building through a couple of the exterior doors, but they encountered a smoke-laden environment, and no being trained structural firefighters and lacking the proper protective equipment with turnout gear and self contained breathing apparatus, they made the correct choice to back out of the building.”
Few water sources were available in the area, and firefighters used a portable water tank and hoselay to fight the structure fire.
In June, the Department of the Interior announced it had secured $12 million to rebuild the Sperry Chalet.