A wildfire, dubbed Robertson Draw Fire, is raging near Red Lodge, a small town in the US state of Montana with over 2,000 residents, forcing 450 locals to be evacuated.
Billy Chapman, a fire information officer from Custer Gallatin National Forest, was quoted by the Montana Public Radio (MTPR) as saying on Wednesday that he could not confirm any losses or damage
The fire was ignited on Sunday and exploded Tuesday, due to very dry, windy, and changing conditions.
The blaze was estimated at 2,000 acres Tuesday but by 6 a.m. Wednesday, it spread across 21,000 acres.
Photos posted on social media showed the fire burning actively eclipsed a mountain ridge, making the flames visible from Red Lodge at midnight.
“It was pretty scary. Mt. Maurice is very visible from downtown. I’m sure a lot of people have seen the pictures but it was a really intense fire, really high flames, absolutely torching the trees. It was intense for a few minutes,” Chapman said.
Extreme fire behavior made it nearly impossible to fight the flames safely on the ground on Tuesday, Chapman said, explaining that air resources were also grounded for a few hours due to high winds, preventing retardant and water drops.
The cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity, and significantly less wind on Wednesday helped the crew make progress in placing the dozer line and securing the fire’s edge.
InciWeb, an interstate incident information system, also indicated Wednesday that evacuations and evacuation warnings were in place for multiple areas near the Robertson Draw Fire, adding 200 fire-fighters focusing their efforts on structure protection and containment.
More than 5 large wildfires were burning in the state on Wednesday besides this fire.