The Type 1 incident management team that has been in charge of the five fires within the Southeastern Montana Complex handed its duties to a smaller Type 3 team on Thursday evening as firefighting efforts continued to wind down.

All five of the fires — the Ash Creek, Taylor Creek, Powerline, Horse Creek and Coal Seam fires — are 100 percent contained.

High winds and thunderstorms sitting over the complex on Wednesday afternoon kept crews busy patrolling fire lines and making sure lightning strikes didn't ignite new blazes.

With containment at hand of the nearly quarter-million-acre Ash Creek fire in the Ashland area, firefighters are staging in Miles City for a quick response on the next wildfire.

How quick?

Those on top of the rotation have five minutes.

“They have to be here and be up and ready to roll. Every day they have got to be ready to dispatch in five minutes,” said Dwayne Andrews, an information officer with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The rapid responders include firefighters, engines and heavy equipment, such as dozers.

Finally, after 11 long days of flames, power outages and evacuations, the Ash Creek fire in southeastern Montana is on the verge of being tamed.

Friendlier weather — cooler temperatures, lower humidity levels, lighter winds and perhaps a spot of rain here and there — on Thursday had officials hopeful that crews would be able to make solid progress on more than a half-dozen wildfires burning in southeastern and south-central Montana.

Early Thursday morning near Ashland, the northeastern corner of the 244,500-acre Ash Creek fire, the largest of those burning, flared up near North Stacey.

When the order came on June 26 to evacuate Ashland because of the fast-moving Ash Creek fire, residents of Heritage Living Center, an assisted living facility primarily for Northern Cheyenne elders, had to go, too.

Not only were Ashland residents able to return to their homes Friday night after being displaced since Tuesday, they also returned home to res…