HAPPENING NOW: Rock Creek Fire has minimal growth

Highway 212 Reopens

Photo by Dan Snyder

A P2 Tanker drops retardant on the Rock Creek Fire.

Carbon County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Department of Transportation are re-opening U.S. Highway 212 to the public effective at 2 p.m. today. The public is urged to use extra caution when traveling through the fire area, watching out for fire equipment working along the side the road, and passing through the area without stopping to prevent traffic congestion. Rock Creek Fire growth was minimal in the last 24 hours with small finger runs towards the ridge that fire managers have identified as crucial trigger points. However, the fire did not reach the ridge to the northwest of the fire. Firefighters were released for the day feeling like their efforts today were successful. Strong winds that were predicted for the afternoon never materialized, which aided in their progress. Firefighters were released for the day feeling like their efforts today were successful. Strong winds that were predicted for the afternoon never materialized, which aided in their progress. The forest fire that started Aug. 20 near East Road and U.S. Highway 212, approximately five miles south of Red Lodge and has spread to 800 acres. The fire started on the north side, not more than a few miles south of Point of Rocks. Gildehaus said the Rock Creek fire was “man caused.” “We are seeking any leads about this fire,” Gildehaus said. A vehicle was spotted in the area earlier. “It began around 2:30 p.m. as determined by our Type 3 Incident Commander, Drew Brown. Brown is also our local USFS Assistant Fire Management Officer.” Management of the fire is transitioning to Shawn Pearson’s Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team. The Incident Command Post is located at the Carbon County Fair Grounds. Although local resources continue to be important to the fire-fighting effort, they will be getting some assistance today from outside resources including the Navajo Interagency Hotshot Crew, who arrived yesterday. Equipment assigned to the fire includes 6 Engines, 2 water tenders, and 2 bulldozers. Three helicopters and two air attack planes will be working on the fire today. Three air tankers with an air attack and a lead plane were working most of the day to lay retardant on the ridge line between the fire and the West Fork Rock Creek. Mop up occurred on the north and east (Highway 212) flanks of the fire. The operational objectives for today are to keep the fire west of Highway 212, north of the Willie Fire, south of the existing dozer line and east of Wapiti Peak. Today the team will assess the various fire divisions and work to further secure the fire on the north and east flanks. Air resources will continue retardant drops on the ridge between the fire and the West Fork of Rock Creek. The team, along with the cooperators, will work to develop long range strategies for putting the fire out. U.S. Highway 212 is closed 3 miles south of Red Lodge, with all but local traffic being re-routed onto MT 308 to Belfry. The highway is closed in Wyoming at the Long Lake gate near the bottom of Beartooth Pass. The highway closure will be evaluated today, and will be re-opened as soon as possible. Rock Creek Resort will reopen today. All area residents south of the fire along Highway 212 remain on pre-evacuation notice. Tonight there will be a public meeting at the Veteran’s Memorial Civic Center on South Villard Ave. in Red Lodge at 7 pm. The team will provide information and answer any questions. For further information, go to: http://www.inciweb.org/