Large Grass Fire Burning South of Billings
It's not as big as they thought last evening, but firefighters are still working to control a very large wildfire south of Billings.. Dubbed the Pryor Creek Road Fire, it began in a harvest field 4 miles northeast of Pryor, and was first reported at 1:20pm p.m. Tuesday afternoon. By 7:00 p.m. B.I.A. Crow Agency Fire Department officials said it had grown to 10,000 acres, driven by gusty winds as a cooler Pacific front moved into Montana. As of noon today (Wednesday) spokesman Jon Kohn said in a press release that .the size was closer to 2000 acres, but said that was still a best guess, and not an official estimate.
Engines arrived from many local agencies including three from BIA, two from Bureau of Land Management, one from the US Forest Service, and engines from Big Horn County, Blue Creek, Lockwood, Shepherd and Worden fire departments, among others. Engines focused all afternoon on structure protection, guarding homes against flying embers.
Ten aircraft were immediately assigned to help fight the fire, including four single-engine air tankers, two different large jet air tankers, one lead plane to guide the tankers’ drops, and helicopters from BIA and DNRC.
The BIA Crow Agency Fire Department reported via Facebook that two outbuildings have been lost and 20 to 30 homes were initially threatened by the fire. Fortunately, gusty winds this morning were pushing it away from the homes and toward the Wild Horse Ridge and Beauvais Creek areas, which are more open ranch land.
Fire officials said the blaze seemed to settle down some as winds eased up after dark, allowing firefighters to get the upper hand, though the fire is not yet contained or controlled.
Commercial flights to and from Billings Logan International Airport were being diverted around the fire area.