TOWNSEND — On Wednesday, firefighters resumed their attack against the Deep Creek Fire, after it spread significantly in Tuesday’s dangerous weather conditions.
The fire, burning in a canyon between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs, grew to 2,000 acres Tuesday. Kathy Bushnell, of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest, said crews had started building bulldozer lines along the east side of the fire, but the strong winds pushed it past.
“It just went for a run after that,” she said. “It just spread very quickly because of the terrain, the fuels and especially those red flag warning weather conditions.”
The weather was less of an obstacle Wednesday, as temperatures were cooler and the wind wasn’t as strong. Bushnell said they again focused their firefighting efforts on the east side, and worked on building lines where they can.
Also on Wednesday, crews began setting up a new fire camp at the Broadwater County Fairgrounds. That’s where the Northern Rockies Type I Incident Management Team will be headquartered when it takes over responsibility for the fire, Thursday at 6 a.m.
The first members of the new team – a much larger group that handles more serious incidents – began arriving Wednesday afternoon. It’s part of a big surge in resources coming to assist. Bushnell estimated they now have about 160 people working on the fire, up from about 70 on Tuesday.
“It’ll provide a bit of relief to our local resources, for the Forest Service, state, volunteer fire departments – all of those,” she said.
Bushnell said there have been structures lost in the fire, but authorities are still determining how many and what type of buildings they were. On Thursday, Broadwater County Sheriff Wynn Meehan confirmed to MTN that at least one family has lost a home.
The fire burned through a long section of U.S. Highway 12 on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the road remained closed to through traffic, and an evacuation order remained in effect for the Grassy Mountain subdivision.
Bushnell said authorities planned to institute a “fire area closure” on Wednesday for areas including the Thompson Guard Station, Gipsy Lake and Skidway Campground.
“Just so that we have a safe place to do some of our fire operations, whether that’s water bucket drops, retardant, or just having people in that area and not having to worry about any public safety issues,” she said.