Mapping by the Bureau of Land Management revealed that Tuesday’s wildfire between Havre (map) and Chinook, Montana that Wildfire Today told you about yesterday stretched for nine miles along the Milk River Valley and blackened 12,000 acres. The 175 firefighters battled 50 mph winds that gusted up to 70.
The cause has not been officially determined but the fire started along the BNSF Railway Company right-of-way in an area where a BNSF crew worked on Tuesday.
Here are some excerpts from an article in the Great Falls Tribune:
“There was one time when the fire was flanking us, and we came across a calf lying in a bunch of weeds where her mom had put her,” [Blaine County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kraig] Hansen said. “We stopped, and I threw the calf in the command vehicle and then we got out of there. We let the fire pass and then I let the calf out.”
In the end, fire crews from a nearly 130-mile radius stopped the blaze. But while the firefighting effort on the Milk River fire was clearly a success, Hansen and [Havre Fire Department Chief Dave] Sheppard’s enthusiasm was tempered by concern about the months ahead.
“We’re not supposed to have grassfires like this in March,” Sheppard said. “We typically don’t see these types of fires until May or June. It’s tinder dry out there. It’s like August fuels right now. If we don’t get some moisture, it’s going to be a long summer.”