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Sunday, September 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sperry Chalet burns in Glacier National Park wildfire

Firefighters work to save the 103-year-old Sperry Chalet from a wildfire in Glacier National Park on Aug. 27.  On Aug. 30, despite their efforts, the main structured caught fire and burned. (National Park Service)
Firefighters work to save the 103-year-old Sperry Chalet from a wildfire in Glacier National Park on Aug. 27. On Aug. 30, despite their efforts, the main structured caught fire and burned. (National Park Service)

PARKS -- Glacier National Park's historic Sperry Chalet was lost to the Sprague Fire today at about 6 p.m., park officials report.

The main chalet building at a remote site in the park burned despite the efforts of a "highly skilled group of firefighters" staged at the remote chalet for the past week, officials said through InciWeb.

"Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the Chalet," according to the report, which pegged the lightning-caused fire at 3,275 acres tonight.

"The high winds experienced this afternoon pushed the fire to the east. The firefighters, supported by three helicopters, made a valiant stand to save the structure but were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet. The firefighters remain on site, ARE SAFE, and are currently actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures."

Sperry, which is at elevation 6,500 feet on the west side of the park, was closed Aug. 15 as the fire advanced after being first reported on Aug. 10. The chalet site is accessed by trail from Lake McDonald Lodge, which was closed Wednesday because of extreme smoky conditions in the area.

Sperry Chalet was built in 1913 by James J. Hill and son Louis Hill of the Great Northern Railway, the prime developer of Glacier National Park. Listed as an Historic Landmark, these rustic buildings, built of native rock, have survived their rugged environment relatively unchanged for more than 90 years. 

Guests access the chalet over 6.7 miles of trail gaining 3,300 feet of elevation.

Opened in 1914, the main building was a two-story rustic hotel.  Other than a modernized kitchen and the new composting restroom facility, the interiors and exteriors were much as they were built.

Sperry is one of the park's two backcountry chalets. While guests at the park's other chalet, Granite Park, hiked in with their own food, those at Sperry had meals, drinks and bed linens provided.  But there was no electricity in the sleeping cabins.

The Glacier National Park Conservancy has already begun taking steps to possibly replace the chalet.  Check it out.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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