BILLINGS – The Billings Fire Department plans to close public areas along the Rims again this year for the Fourth of July holiday.
After years of closing the Rims for the holiday, the department opened the last year as an experiment.
Fire Chief William Rash said he was patrolling the area with then-Chief Paul Dextras, and they both observed concerning things, causing them to make the decision to keep the Rims closed this year.
"We were fortunate. Nothing catastrophic happened, but we did have a few instances where things could have developed into a pretty severe situation because of the potential up there," said Rash. "We discussed it with our law enforcement partners and the city, and we decided [to close the Rims] in the best interest of the public safety, which is our number one thing."
Rash said the main concern is the ability to fight a fire if one started in the area, due to the difficult terrain.
"If a fire were to start up there, then we would have a real issue," said Rash. "You get a little bit of wind, the wrong conditions, and all of a sudden we have structures, people, a lot of problems that we may not have the resources to contain in a timely manner."
The closures will include the area along the Rims from Main Street in the Heights, along the south side of Highway 3 to Zimmerman Park. Zimmerman Park and Phipps Park are included in the closures.
The area will be closed off starting the morning of Tuesday July 3, and will remain closed through Thursday. During this time, there will be no access for vehicles, bikes or pedestrians.