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Aug 21, 2013 11:18 PM by Victoria Fregoso

Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team prepares to take over Rock Creek Fire south of Red Lodge

RED LODGE - The Rock Creek Fire burning a few miles south of Red Lodge has charred 600 acres. As of Wednesday night, that fire is zero-percent contained.

Efforts to knock down the Rock Creek Fire south of Red Lodge continued into Wednesday after the fire slowly grew over night. "Typically at night when the temperatures go down and the relative humidity goes up, the fire will settle down and typically become quieter," said Rock Creek Fire Public Information Officer Barbara Pitman.

Despite that quiet night and small growth, the reopening of Beartooth Pass and lifting of evacuation orders all depends on fire activity over the next few days. The Rock Creek Resort is expected to reopen Thursday. All residents south of the fire along Highway 212 will remain on pre-evacuation notice.

Dry conditions and wind pose the biggest threat. "There is always a concern. A lot of it because of winds that we can get in this country," Pitman said. "We do take big effort to try and prevent it from crossing the highway."

That effort includes air tankers dropping retardant throughout the day to attack this fire from the sky. There's also plenty of activity going on down on the ground. Hand crews are removing timber to clear fuel away from the highway.

Efforts with Tuesday's burnout strategy paid off as most of the fire traveled west uphill away from the highway. "One of the purposes of this burnout was to burn up fuels between the highway and the fire. To reduce the possibility of the fire crossing the highway."

The Northern Rockies Type 2 Incident Management Team is expected to take over Thursday morning. The team will hold afternoon briefings that are open to the public at 5 p.m. at the Red Lodge Fairgrounds. Although the cause has been confirmed as human--investigators are trying to determine the exact source.

Anyone wishing to travel to Yellowstone National Park will need to travel through Belfry onto the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. According to Jeff Gildehaus with the U.S. Forest Service, the highway closure will be evaluated Thursday and will re-open as soon as possible.

The fire fighter injured during the start of the fire yesterday was back on duty today.


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