Montana Wildfire Update For June 21, 2021
Updated 06/21/21, 5 p.m.
Robertson Draw Fire
The Robertson Draw Fire 7 miles south of Red Lodge is estimated at nearly 30,000 acres and is 45% contained, mostly on the east side of the fire in sagebrush and grass.
The fire’s operation section chief Michael Albritton explained during the Monday morning briefing that the west side of the fire would be tougher to contain.
“We’re also dealing with a lot of cliffs and rocks. It’s very rocky, cliffy, steep. Poor access. There’s not a lot of roads in there. So, it’s a lot harder to get people in here. It’s not as safe to get folks in here.”
He says large and small helicopters are dropping water on hot spots.
Evacuation warnings were lifted on Sunday for the areas of North and South Grove Creek, Gold Creek, Ruby Creek and Robertson Draw east to Highway 72. Evacuation warnings remain in effect for the areas south of Red Lodge and east of the Beartooth Highway, which is open to the public.
Updated 8 a.m.
The Robertson Draw Fire burning south of Red Lodge grew to more than 29,400 acres over the weekend and reached 13% containment according to an InciWeb update Sunday.
The area south of Red Lodge along the east side of highway 212 is still under an evaluation warning, according to officials in Sunday’s InciWeb update.
Officials warn residents to remain vigilant and be ready to evacuate.
All Custer Gallatin National Forest System lands south of Point of Rocks in the Rock Creek Drainage are closed.
A closure order is also in place for the Bureau of Land Management lands lying west of State Highway 72, south of State Highway 308, and east of the U.S. Highway 212 in Carbon County.
Efforts to contain the fire and protect buildings continue. There are currently nearly 300 personnel on scene according to Inciweb. Northern Rockies Coordination Center says roughly $3.2 million has been spent on firefighting efforts.
Updated 6 p.m.
Deep Creek Canyon Fire
Firefighters are optimistic about their progress on the 4,600-acre Deep Creek Canyon Fire southeast of Helena, which they nearly halfway contained over the weekend.
Fire spokesperson Margie Ferrucci says up to a half inch of rain assisted crews mopping up smoldering material along the perimeter Sunday.
“Just jumping to 48% so quickly, that’s a huge improvement.”
Ferrucci says officials are trying to contain the fire by July 1.
Crews are digging lines along the northwest and northeast sections of the fire as they look for hot spots and unburned fuel.
Four hundred and sixty people are on the fire, which has cost $3.5 million to fight so far, according to a news release.
The release says dry, warming temperatures and gusty winds could spur fire behavior this week. Vigilante Electric Cooperative hopes to return power to the area by Thursday, according to the general manager.
Updated 8 a.m.
An evacuation order previously in place for the Grassy Mountain area near the Deep Creek Canyon Fire was lifted over the weekend. The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office says residents should still be on high alert.
The fire, between Townsend and White Sulfur Springs, is 48% contained, according to an incident update Sunday evening on InciWeb.
Highway 12 east is open again and a 35 mph speed limit is in place. Officials are encouraging travelers to use caution when driving through the canyon and to not stop along the highway.
Updated 8 a.m.
Crooked Creek Fire
The Crooked Creek Fire located 25 miles east of Bridger, in the Pryor Mountains, is burning 5,400 acres and is 20% contained, according to an incident update Sunday on InciWeb.
One outbuilding was destroyed on Saturday.
A pre-evacuation warning notice issued by the Carbon County Sheriff's Office for 25 residences in the Sage Creek area remains in effect.
A respite from hot dry weather expected across South Central Montana on Sunday resulted in minimal fire activity. Incident officials say temperatures are expected to increase significantly on Monday and return to well above normal temperatures and dry conditions by mid-week.
Public lands managed by the Custer Gallatin National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management near the fire have been temporarily closed.
Explore what wildfire means for the West, our planet and our way of life, with Fireline, a six-part series from Montana Public Radio and the University Of Montana College of Business.