Fires continue to burn near Billings

2014-07-28T16:42:00Z 2014-07-29T07:13:03Z Fires continue to burn near BillingsBy CHRIS CIOFFI ccioffi@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Two fires continued to burn near Billings on Monday.

A fire in Hysham Hills has charred 780 acres since it began Saturday, said Derek Yeager, the fire program manager at the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

“We’re still on scene working with the Treasure County folks,” he said.

The DNRC, ranchers and Treasure County firefighters were able to get the fire contained by 3 a.m. Sunday, and “there’s been no perimeter growth since then,” he said.

The department has been able to transfer some personnel and equipment to another fire burning in Golden Valley County, south and east of Ryegate.

That fire, which has been burning since Sunday in the Painted Robe Creek Drainage, is about 200 acres, according to Golden Valley County Sheriff Floyd Fisher.

The fire is about 50 percent contained, he said.

A structure is threatened in the area, but fire retardant dropped from an airplane has been able to protect it.

No cause has been established for either fire. They remain under investigation.

The 167-acre Lodge Grass Basin fire on Crow Agency has not grown for several days, and most of the flames have disappeared from the area, said Bryce Rogers, Crow Agency Bureau of Indian Affairs fire management officer.

The area continues to smolder, and firefighters cannot get access to safely to put out the

remaining embers. About 30 firefighters on Tepee Pole Ridge north of the fire continue to monitor the fire in case it flares again.

Fires continue to pop up throughout the area, but fire departments are working diligently to keep most from getting out of hand, Yeager said.

A few fires were started by overheating farming equipment, and Yeager said people should report fires immediately, even if they appear to be extinguishable.

“If a person can get to and put out the fire, great,” he said. “But if they can’t, at least the wheels are in motion to get them

some help.”

Stage one fire restrictions banning all open campfires and open burning have been imposed in Yellowstone County by the county commissioners until further notice. The only exception is some agricultural uses with prior permission, and no new burn permits will be issued until the restrictions are lifted.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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