A Type 1 Incident Management Team was ordered and began mobilizing Friday afternoon to take over the Bruner Mountain fire burning south of Roundup.
Wildfire incident command teams come in five different levels, with Type 5 typically assigned to the least complex fires and Type 1 teams assigned to the most complex.
The Bruner Mountain fire began Thursday evening after lightning moved through the Bull Mountains and was estimated overnight to be around 150 acres. On Friday the fire grew and was estimated as of about 6 p.m. to be 800 acres and 10 percent contained, said Adam Carlson, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Musselshell County.
A backburn operation on Friday saved three homes in the Bruner Mountain subdivision and diverted the fire around them, Carlson said.
"We're starting to get containment on it," Carlson said early Friday evening. "Air attacks and retardant lines have been slowing it down greatly."
He said the fire showed the most growth on the south and southwest end and that some good lines had been established around parts of its northern front.
Nearly 300 people from local and federal fire crews, with the help of aircraft from above, have worked on trying to halt the fire.
Tom Kurth's Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team received word of their new assignment at around 4:45 p.m. on Friday, said Sam Harrel, a public information officer with the team.
As the Lodgepole Complex fire began to explode in acreage late last week, the team was sent down to Montana and stationed in Billings in anticipation of continued regional fire activity. On Tuesday they were dispatched to the 3,000-acre Buffalo fire burning 30 miles southwest of Broadus, where they also tackled the 1,000-acre Stallions fire burning on the Wyoming side of the border.
At the time, Harrel said that assignment was less because of the complexity of the fire and more due to the scarcity of incident management teams in the region and the desire to protect grazing land that has grown increasingly scarce due to drought and grass fires in Eastern Montana.
By Thursday the Buffalo fire was at 80 percent contained and the Stallions fire was 90 percent contained.
Initial attack crews, hot shots, dozers, engines and team leadership were to begin traveling toward the Bruner Mountain fire on Friday as soon as they were cleared, Harrel said. He estimated they would bring about 40 personnel to the fire, with more continuing to head toward the fire on Saturday.
Some residents in the Bruner Mountain area were put on evacuation notice Thursday night. On Friday morning, that notice extended to Rehder and Beard roads. A pre-evacuation notice was announced for Big Clearing Road.
Other evacuation orders in effect are for the Bruner Mountain subdivision and Portal Road. Pre-evacuation advisories are in place for the Johnny's Coal and Big Clearing areas.
A fire sparked by lightning in the Fly Creek area Thursday evening is estimated to have burned 3,800 acres of private land, said Ed Auker, disaster and emergency services coordinator for Big Horn County.
Auker said the fire began to come under control around 10:30 p.m. Thursday night and was extinguished as of Friday. Though Auker wasn't certain on damages to property, he guessed the fire might have damaged some fencing.
The fire burned grass and sage south of the interstate between the Fly Creek rest area and the Fly Creek interchange.
Lightning started two other fires to the north and east of the Fly Creek fire, Auker said.
Multiple agencies responded to the fire. From Yellowstone County, the Haley Bench Volunteer Fire Department and the Worden Volunteer Fire Department sent crews. Big Horn County Rural Fire Department, the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and local ranch hands were also at work on the fire.
"I don't know who all came out, but we certainly appreciate the help," Auker said.