NewsWildfire Watch


Responders handle Billings Heights wildfire and urge fire safety

Bo Fire
Posted at 7:54 PM, Jun 30, 2024

BILLINGS — A large wildfire, dubbed the "Bo Fire," broke out Saturday afternoon in Billings Heights north of Alkali Creek Road, prompting firefighters to respond quickly and urge the importance of fire safety before the Fourth of July.

As of Sunday, there are no active flames but the area is continuing to be monitored.

Beginning around 12:30 p.m., the fire affected a 250.68 acre area and according to MT Fire Info, is 21 percent contained. Both Alkali Creek Road from the intersection at Skyway Drive to Warfield Park and the Inner Belt Loop (Skyway Drive) were closed, but have since been reopened. No evacuations to the area were ordered.

“We received an alert through an app called I Am Responding that told us there's a fire at this location. We looked at the wind and said, 'There's a good chance this could get bigger,'" said Annemarie Overcast, the disaster and emergency services coordinator for Yellowstone County.

Rims Fire
As of Sunday, the flames of the wildfire had been put out.

According to Melissa Ellis, the ICT for training at the site, they were lucky to have caught the fire when they did.

“It started off Alkali Creek Road and it pushed towards the new Skyway Road. We stopped it before that, so that was good. We mapped it this morning at 250 acres," said Ellis.

Recent high winds made the fire unpredictable and difficult to manage, threatening many homes in the area, a pipeline, a fuel tank, and several powerlines.

“It was very wind-driven at the time. We probably had 15 to 20-mile-an-hour winds pushing it. The fields out here are ponderosa pine and grass understory, which looks green but it's very dry,” said Dustin Sciacca, the operations county fire advisor. "A lot of dead fuel on the ground."

 Several crews, including firefighters in Yellowstone County, volunteer groups, Yellowstone County Disaster & Emergency Services, and Montana DNRC, came to the rescue to ensure no homes burned. Currently, they have not determined the cause of the fire.

“We're still looking into that, but our priority right now is to make sure the forward progress and the fire stays inside the perimeter,” said Sciacca.

All three responders stressed the importance of staying safe for the upcoming holiday and avoiding another potential wildfire.

“The burn permit system is turned off through July 8th. That's because we've got dry conditions, high winds, limited resources. We haven't had a number of fires in the area. So we want our firefighters to focus on those fires and reduce the potential for new fires to start on accident,” said Overcast.

“Have fun, celebrate, you know, but be smart about it. Make sure you have a clear area if you're lighting fireworks off. If you're having campfires make sure you have a tool and water to put them out," added Sciacca. "Enjoy the time but respect nature.”