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Laurel fire

Firefighters from the Laurel Volunteer Fire Department, BLM, DNRC and Lockwood Fire and Rescue battle a wind-driven fire at the Sundance Lodge access near Laurel on Wednesday.

A fire that burned 12 acres of Bureau of Land Management land along the banks of the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River east of Laurel Wednesday morning may have started after high winds downed a power line. 

The fire was first reported shortly before 10 a.m. in the Sundance Lodge Recreation area. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph pushed flames through grass and into pockets of cottonwood trees.

Multiple agencies responded to the fire and the blaze was contained as of noon, according to BLM spokesperson Sarah Holm. 

The fire is believed to have been caused by a downed power line "that was most likely brought down by the high winds that we had but it's not for sure at this point," Holm said late Wednesday afternoon. "There is still an ongoing investigation into the cause of it."   

Crews are expected to continue mopping up the fire for a couple of days due to lingering hot spots in cottonwoods and understory fuels.

In addition to the BLM, Laurel Volunteer Fire Department and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation responded to the fire. Officials with the Yellowstone County Sheriff's office and the county Disaster and Emergency Services were also on scene.

Wind gusts reached a 24-hour maximum of 55 miles per hour at 11:35 a.m. in Laurel, according to data from the National Weather Service.


Morning Reporter

General assignment reporter for the Billings Gazette.