Emigrant fire grows to 420 acres

2013-07-23T06:50:00Z 2013-07-23T18:21:03Z Emigrant fire grows to 420 acresGazette Staff The Billings Gazette
July 23, 2013 6:50 am  • 

The Emigrant fire burning in the Gallatin National Forest south of Livingston grew to 419 acres on Tuesday as fire crews work to get it under control, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service said. 

Karen Tuscano said Tuesday that although the fire is zero percent contained, it hasn't grown much and that firefighters are planning to start using natural barriers to bring the fire under control. 

"Emigrant Peak has a very rocky ridge at the top," she said. "That’s definitely a strong natural barrier that we’ll be using."

At lower elevations, she said firefighters aim to use some green meadow areas, which are not burning, to hem the fire in as well. 

On Monday, Tuscano said in a news release that the fire was "actively burning the large ground fuels in the area, and single and group tree torching has also been observed. Firefighters continued to report the large boulders and large ground fuels rolling down the extremely steep terrain and igniting the unburned fuel below the fire perimeter."

Firefighters first responded to the fire on Sunday. It likely started after thunderstorms and lightning rolled through the area on July 16.

Tuscano said that firefighter and public safety are the top priorities in fighting the Emigrant fire and that, while there's not an immediate threat of the fire reaching private property, it could burn for and extended period of time due to the rugged terrain.

"Fire personnel will look for opportunities to use natural barriers to confine the fire to as small an area as possible," she said. "This is the only safe option for firefighters on the ground at this time."

Forty firefighters and a pair of helicopters are fighting the fire.

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