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Sarpy fire burns 10,000 acres in Big Horn County

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Posted at 10:44 PM, Sep 02, 2020

The Sarpy fire in Big Horn County burned about 10,000 acres Wednesday, and fire officials warn it could threaten ranches or homes Thursday.

The fire started from unknown causes about 2 p.m. south of the Westmoreland Absaloka coal mine on the Crow reservation, according to John Kohn, the Crow Ageny BIA fire information officer.

The Sarpy fire pushed 15 miles south in seven hours, driven by 52-mile-per-hour winds, 94-degree temperatures and dry conditions along the border of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations, according to Kohn.

No homes were threatened Wednesday. Around 7 p.m., the fire swung south down the Little Hawk Creek drainage and reached US Highway 212 about two miles east of Busby.

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe has an evacuation order from the Reservation line east to Iron Bridge (Rosebud Creek). Only emergency personnel and residents are permitted on US 212 there, mainly because of smoke on the highway.

This fire is similar to the Sarpy Complex eight years ago in the same area, which burned more than 85,000 acres in a day, and also headed south overnight to US 212 where it burned a trailer home and threatened other homes.

Many resources have converged on this incident including BIA Crow Agency fire engines, Big Horn County Rural Fire engines and support vehicles, BIA Northern Cheyenne engines and dozers and crew, local ranchers, and other responders.