Rain helps fire crews make progress on Ash Creek fire; Highway 212 reopens

2012-07-06T08:00:00Z 2013-02-12T21:56:45Z Rain helps fire crews make progress on Ash Creek fire; Highway 212 reopensBy CLAIR JOHNSON cjohnson@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

9:30 A.M.: Taylor Creek fire in the Southeastern Montana Complex received only “a smattering of rain” on Thursday, but relative humidity is higher, in the 30 percent range, Dixie Dies, fire information officer, said on Friday.

Firefighters will focus on the north, northeast side, which is mostly heavy timber, Dies said. The south side remained quiet, she said.

Thursday night was the last night for crews on the Horse Creek and Powerline fires within the complex. Crews will be on the fires on Friday, but after Friday, those fires will be on “patrol” status, Dies said.

“We’re not leaving them. We’re still going to be there watching, but this will give us extra resources to put into Taylor Creek,” she said.

The Horse Creek fire is 95 percent contained at 7,575 acres, while the Poweline fire is 90 percent contained and 5,265 acres. The Taylor Creek fire is 20 percent contained and 46,214 acres.

Those three fires, along with the Ash Creek fire, make up the Southeastern Montana Complex.


 

8 A.M.: Rain overnight in southeastern Montana helped cool the huge Ash Creek fire in the Ashland area, Kathy Bushnell, fire information officer, said on Friday morning.

“They received anywhere between a tenth to a quarter inch of rain on the fire last night. Most of the fire except for the eastern flank is now in control status,” Bushnell said.

Also, U.S. Highway 212, from Lame Deer to Broadus, has reopened to the general public, Bushnell said. There will be reduced speeds in the Camps Pass area for fire traffic and smoke potential, she said.

With a forecast for cooler temperatures in the mid to high 80s and lighter winds up to about 10 mph, firefighters are hoping to do more direct suppression closer to the fire on its eastern and northeastern flanks, Bushnell said. Meanwhile, helicopters and airplanes are continuing to fight the fire from above, she added.

The Ash Creek fire remains at 70 percent contained with 248,600 acres burned. The lightning-caused fire began on June 25 east of Lame Deer.

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