NewsWildfire Watch


Evacuations lifted for Harris fire near Joliet

Buffalo Fire near Huntley 50% contained
071821 HARRIS FIRE.jpg
Posted at 7:13 PM, Jul 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-18 21:13:30-04

BILLINGS — On Sunday, Firefighters made progress on two fires that started over the weekend in Huntley and Joliet, said Kate Wilson, public information officer for the Montana Department of Natural Resource Conservation.

An outbuilding sits in front of a hill scorched by the Buffalo Fire near Huntley.

The Buffalo Fire burning near White Buffalo Road south of Huntley was relatively inactive on Sunday, which allowed firefighters to achieve 50 percent containment on the fire that's burned 300 acres and destroyed three structures.

“It was really scary there for a day or so and now we’re in patrol status, so things have definitely calmed down," Wilson told MTN News in a telephone interview.

Wilson said it's unknown what type of structures were burned in the fire.

"They could have been out buildings or sheds. We'll hopefully be able to have that information by tomorrow," Wilson said.

It's still unknown how the Buffalo Fire Started. Crews will continue to monitor the area for flare ups, Wilson said.

Across the region, firefighters are preparing for more sweltering temperatures.

Firefighters meet at the Harris Fire camp near Joliet.

“It was very hot today. It’s expected to just be hotter tomorrow and we are getting a little bit of wind, so it’s definitely concerning. It looks like the temperatures will drop a bit come Tuesday, but it’s still very hot. The folks that have been doing this for a really long time are saying we’re a month to a month and a half ahead of where you would normally see these hot and dry conditions. So I think it just means it’s going to be a really long summer," Wilson said.

In Carbon County near Joliet, firefighters reached 25 percent containment on the Harris fire on Sunday. The lightning-sparked fire has burned 2,500 acres since Friday. Slower fire behavior on Sunday allowed an evacuation order to be lifted and the residents of about 50 homes to return to their property, Wilson said.

“They dug a lot of line and the firefighters worked really hard to contain it, so it’s behaving better today. That’s why the evacuation orders and the road closures are now lifted," Wilson said.

The following road closures have been partially lifted and are local access only: Cole Creek Road, Stene Road, all of Bellion Road, Monahan Road, and both entrances to Farewell Road.

071821 HARRIS FIRE.jpg
Fire camp at the Harris Fire near Joliet

Wilson said hand crews and dozers have helped construct fire lines on the Harris fire. Over the next few days crews will work to clear flammable material 132 feet inward from the fire's edge.

“In some places, it will remain hot in the middle, but they are going to work from the outside in for the next few days," Wilson said.

As firefighters continue to work, smoke and blowing dust may be visible in the area of the fire. Wilson said the smoke and dust are no need for concern. Residents only need to call 9-1-1 if they see actual flames.

“If people see visible flames, do report it to 9-1-1, but we are definitely monitoring it actively," Wilson said.

RELATED: Three structures lost in fire burning near Huntley