A fire that burned through 500 to 600 acres of timber and grass in Rosebud County Wednesday is being demobilized today, but a red-flag fire warning remains in effect through most of southcentral and southeastern Montana.
Cause of the fire that apparently started Tuesday 21 miles south of Rosebud off the Rosebud Creek Road is under investigation.
"Fire was originally thought to be an escaped prescribed burn; however, no prescribed burn was being conducted by any agency or county anywhere near the fire location,'' said Dena Lang, fire mitigation and education specialist for the Bureau of Land Management's Eastern Montana Fire Zone in Miles City.
Early Wednesday, the fire made significant runs, including igniting a 10-acre spot fire that jumped 400 yards from the original. It burned actively throughout the day and threatened to gain even more ground when strong winds blew through late Wednesday night, Lang reported. Fire crews, however, were able to hold the lines.
Rosebud County crews were assisted by the Eastern Montana Land Office, BLM, BIA, the Miles City Fire Department and local landowners and contractors. A total of 79 people fought the blaze, along with a helicopter, 16 engines, two bulldozers and two water tenders.
The fire is reportedly 100 percent contained, and demobilization of federal resources begins this morning. Engines and crews will continue to patrol the fire looking for hot spots.
A red-flag warning will remain in effect until 9 p.m. because of strong winds, including gusts up to 40 mph, expected this afternoon. Very low humidity and possible thunderstorms are also part of the equation.
Relative humidity in Billings could drop to 17 to 22 percent this afternoon. On the Crow Reservation, it may be as low as 12 to 17 percent. In nearby Rosebud and Treasure counties, it will be a little better at 20 to 27 percent.
Chance of thunderstorms is about 30 percent.