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Lame Deer Fire

Lame Deer residents watch as a fire races across a field on the edge of town Sunday evening.

Many have read about the fire incident in Lame Deer, on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, last Sunday. What wasn’t emphasized was the great response to the situation.

The fire first began as a trailer house fire on our cut-across road. Being a ways out of town, it is logical the trailer was a total loss and, unfortunately, even with a good response, the fire got in to the grass and took off. Somewhat of a perfect storm scenario: low humidity, driving winds and a dry fuel source.

The wind was driving the fire towards some houses and towards Lame Deer itself. This time of the year not everyone is thinking fire season, even with the warnings we did have. As the fire grew, it was obvious we had our hands full, even though local resources were there and doing what they could.

As a community member and county commissioner is was humbling what progressed throughout the fire. Local people were stepping up and helping. The emergency services people were helping with traffic and had an evacuation plan for those effected by the bad air conditions. The fire personnel were doing a great job putting the fire out and protecting the structures. During a big incident like this we call it organized chaos as you see trucks moving from structure to structure and down the road as the fire goes.

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When things started slowing down, it was surprising to see the support from our neighboring fire departments. There were trucks from Broadus, Ashland, Colstrip, and even the city of Forsyth sent a truck. Rosebud County had quite a few trucks there, and the local ranchers that have county fire trucks showed up and were a great help. When the smoke settled, there were no other lost structures and no injuries. The fire ended up around 2,600 acres, and is now covered in snow.

It is refreshing to see how communities can pull together during a time of crisis — not for the money or fame, but it’s the right thing to do! Hats off to all the responders and people that helped make a bad situation bearable. Thank you to all that helped, it brings back faith in humanity.

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Ed Joiner is the Rosebud County commissioner whose district includes Lame Deer.

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