Jul 31, 2012 11:09 AM by Q2 News
Crews were able to gain quick containment of several lighting caused fires north of Billings early this morning. A fast moving front created lightning strikes mainly in Musselshell County and sparked numerous fire starts. Musselshell County responders seemed busiest, with several fires reported. Here's preliminary information on the current status of the fires - all of them in Musselshell County:
The Sandbak Road Fire is estimated at 297 acres. The fire burned mostly in grass and Broadview Fire Department firefighters had the fire contained overnight. A barn and miscellaneous equipment were damaged or destroyed;
The School House Fire is 5 acres and should be contained today;
The Sharp Fire is estimated at 407 acres this morning. Firefighters from the BLM and Musselshell County are working on the blaze;
All of the fires were ignited by dry lightning, much of which passed through the area at 11:30pm last night. With fire managers expecting to pick up additional fire starts in the county, the Montana DNRC is sending 12 additional engines, 2 water tenders and some personnel to Roundup today to bolster forces. "The local fire departments are doing an unbelievable job on initial attack," said DNRC Information Officer Paula Short. Short noted that firefighters are managing existing fires, responding to new starts, and still maintaining emergency response capability associated with their normal operations. "All of the agencies - federal, state and local - are really working well together, sharing resources and coordinating responses. The result has been the ability to keep the vast majority of new fire starts small and get them extinguished right away," said Short. Short warned, however, that the weather forecast is not favorable to firefighters, with more thunderstorm activity and continued heat predicted for the next several days.
Today's weather forecast for Musselshell County calls for clear skies, temperatures in the mid-90s and the possibility of isolated thunderstorms in the evening.
Volunteer fire departments from several jurisdictions jumped on the fires last night and into early this morning. As of 9 a.m. all the fire starts were contained.