Posted: Aug 21, 2013 9:32 AM by Victoria Fregoso - MTN News
RED LODGE - Fire agencies surrounding Red Lodge rushed to a section of Highway 212 five miles south of town after receiving word of a small wildfire. However, that blaze spread quickly devouring trees and brush, multiplying in size.
"The fire is working its way up the ridge," said Jeff Gildehaus, Public Information Officer with USDA Forest Service. "Our worry of course is that it will work either up the canyon or go over the top of the ridge over the west fork of Rock Creek."
Officials have declared the fire human caused but the exact source is still under investigation.
As of Tuesday evening, the Rock Creek Fire forced residents out of three homes as well as guests and personnel at the Rock Creek Resort. Several other homeowners were put on pre-evacuation alert. Bulldozers dug up barriers around those homes for protection while fire fighters conducted burn-out operations to reduce fuel surrounding the fire.
"It's not too long when you're at moderate fire danger to go to high or even very high pretty quickly this time of year," Gildehaus said. "This country dries out pretty quick."
A majority of the fire is burning on Forest Service Land in the Custer National Forest. Those flames are now closing in on the Willie Fire burn scar from the year 2000.
Local campsites remain open but campers are being warned they might need to leave within a moment's notice.
Travelers wanting to head up the Beartooth Pass to Yellowstone National Park are being told to find alternative routes.
Heavy air tankers dropped fire retardant along fire line borders trying to slow the growth.
In the midst of this active wildfire season, extra help is hard to come by. "Resources are stretched all over the west. So I'm sure those resources are being called upon. How quickly we'll get hand crews and other resources put the kibosh on this is yet to be determined."
A type two federal management team has been ordered to assist with this fire. They are expected to arrive on site Wednesday morning.
One firefighter was injured during initial attack Tuesday afternoon. He was transported to Billings Clinic in Red Lodge with non-life threatening injuries.