NEAR WOLF CREEK — The Rock Creek Fire north of Wolf Creek and west of Craig has now burned an estimated 3,420 acres. The fire started along Highway 287 on Saturday afternoon and spread toward Interstate 15 after an incident with broken machinery sparked the flames.
Resources on the fire on Sunday included 14 engines, three water tenders; two road graders; one dozer; and two helicopters. Containment is now estimated at about 80%.
“Crews are going to continue to work the fire’s edge through the night, so the fire will be staffed overnight,” said Incident Commander Scott Knauer on Sunday afternoon. “Once we decide how the progress went today, we’ll determine the right staffing level for tomorrow, but there will be personnel on the fire working it for the next couple of days.”
But despite the quick spread of the flames, no buildings have been damaged, and no people, animals, or livestock have been injured.
For safety concerns, eight homes were evacuated in the vicinity of the fire, but were given the OK to return home at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
“Deputies and other law enforcement got in the area and determined that evacuations were necessary along Craig River Road,” said Kevin Wright, Special Operations Captain for the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office. “That information also came from working with Fire as well, and there were about 8 residences along Craig River Road which were evacuated through the evening. Those evacuations were lifted this morning at 8 o’clock.”
The Albertsons grocery store on Montana Avenue in Helena will be collecting supplies for fire teams working to fight the fire. Items needed include water, electrolyte drinks, high protein snacks without chocolate, beef jerky, granola bars, foot powder, and wipes, and cash and gift card donations will also be accepted.
The Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office says that as of 8 a.m. on Sunday, northbound I-15 is open to traffic. Southbound I-15 traffic is restricted to one lane from Craig to the Highway 287 exit.
(1st REPORT, SATURDAY, JULY 10) A wildfire sparked between Craig and Wolf Creek on Saturday; it has been named the Rock Creek Fire by the Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation.
At about 6:45 p.m., the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office said: "A fire is burning between Craig and the Augusta turnoff, in the area of mile marker 232. Please avoid this area."
Several witnesses have said that the fire is on the north/west side of I-15.
I-15 has been closed between Craig and Wolf Creek. Northbound traffic is being diverted to Montana Highway 434 and southbound traffic is being turned around.
Law enforcement from several agencies are evacuating homes in the immediate vicinity of the fire, and anyone that feels that their home is in the path of the fire should prepare to evacuate.
We will update you as we get more information.