Fire Update Monday Aug 20 at 11 Pm
Incident: Highway 87 Wildfire
One home burned Monday afternoon as the Highway 87 fire blew several miles southwest about 3 p.m. from its origin northwest of the junction of Old US Highway 87 and Pryor Road. At 11 p.m., the fire is not growing, but has potential to expand quickly Tuesday. It burned in ponderosa pine hills and sagebrush and shortgrass prairie, covering perhaps 1000 to 2000 acres.
Portions of the fire edge have fireline constructed, but the fire remains completely uncontained. "Contained" fireline would mean that managers were certain that flames could not jump firelines, but firefighters have days of work ahead of them before having that assurance. Fires are jumping dozer lines this summer. Crews, task forces, and strike teams and their supervisors are working through the night to construct and reinforce firelines.
Engines are protecting several homes along Pryor Creek through the night. Electric power is out in areas along Pryor Creek south to the town of Pryor, but utility crews are working overnight to restore power.
Pryor Road and Old Highway 87 reopened at dusk to local traffic only. Firefighters request the public to avoid the area. Driving is hazardous due to smoke and to all sorts of fire equipment working along the narrow two-lane roadways. Any drivers obstruct the work of firefighters.
A unified command of Montana Department of Natural Resources personnel, engines, equipment and aircraft is working hand in glove with similar resources from Crow Agency BIA to manage and contain the fire. Incident commanders from Lockwood Fire Department and Crow Agency BIA are coordinating tactics and use of resources. Two Crow Tribal dozers and a Tribal grader are working the fire through the night, along with heavy equipment from many other agencies.
At least six aircraft fought the fire through the evening until dusk. An air attack (spotter plane) circled far overhead, coordinating heavy and single engine air tankers that rained retardant in dry areas, and helicopters that dumped water buckets. To be effective, aircraft work was complemented by engines, bulldozers and graders on the ground, who approached the fire's edge from the rear, to pinch off its growth as the wind blew it southwest. A temporary flight restriction is in place over the fire.
Burnt trees will be blazing up at intervals overnight and throughout Tuesday. Firefighters expect to be challenged Tuesday by hot dry weather to 95 degrees, and by gusts to 25 mph predicted Tuesday night.
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