Columbus Fire on I90

Helicopters drop water on the wildfire that burned towards Interstate 90 near Columbus on July 30.

Firefighters on Monday morning continued to battle a roughly 160-acre wildfire between Columbus and Park City that prompted the temporary evacuation of the Pinecrest subdivision north of Interstate 90 on Sunday.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes after an evacuation issue was ordered Sunday night, Columbus Fire Rescue Chief Rich Cowger said. Two houses, one of which is within 200 feet of the Mile Marker 417 Fire, are still considered threatened, Cowger said.

“Provided we can hold the line, I think they’re in good shape,” Cowger said Monday morning. He estimated that the fire is now about 65 percent contained. “We survived all the wind we had last night. Right now it’s looking pretty good.”

Firefighting crews, helicopters and several single-engine planes from local, state and federal agencies responded Sunday to a series of fires that were first reported earlier that evening. Several retardant drops, including one that struck the interstate, helped slow the fire’s growth during the initial response.

The local fire chief characterized the burn area as “pretty challenging terrain,” with the fire burning through dry timber on a steep hillside. About 80 personnel are battling the fire.

“We just ask (the public) — we still have fire crews working in the area, we still have equipment in the area, so drive slowly, give them the room they need to do their job and try not to congregate in the area,” Cowger said. “And the same thing with people along the interstate. There’s a lot of stuff to see going on, but try not to clog up traffic in the area.”

The cause of the fires is still under investigation.



General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.