A dash of rain Thursday morning helped firefighters make good progress on the northern edge of the Richard Spring fire, but they're continuing to struggle on the fire's southern edge to protect the town of Lame Deer.
Fire managers are holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. Friday at the Colstrip Middle School auditorium at 216 Olive Dr. on the Richard Spring and Lame Deer fires.
A second public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Littlewolf Capital Building at 600 Cheyenne Ave. in Lame Deer.
Estimates for the Richard Spring fire grew to 170,303 acres with zero containment, while the Lame Deer fire is at 5,427 acres with no containment.
Crews are mopping up and securing lines along the fire's north and west perimeters, aidid by the slight precipitation, fire managers said in their Friday update.
Along the southern edge, the most active region of the fire, firefighters including four Hotshot crews are building handlines south of Highway 212 to contain the fire north of Lame Deer Divide Road.
Aerial resources (including both helicopter water drops and airplane retardant drops) continue to support that effort on the ground. Firefighters will work to secure burnout operations conducted last night in the Lame Deer Divide Road and Soldier Gulch Road area and are continuing to mop up along the fire’s southeastern perimeter near Ashland.
Rosebud County Fire Warden and Rosebud County Sheriff have downgraded the evacuation status for the community of Ashland, including the Ashland Divide, Rabbit Town, North Tongue River Road, and the St. Labre Indian Academy Campus, from Level 3 “Go Now” stage to a Level 1 “Be Ready” stage. The communities of Lame Deer, Muddy Cluster, and Rosebud Cut Across remain in Level 3 “Go Now” stage.
Pre-evacuation notices are in effect for Rosebud Creek from Greenleaf Creek to Cherry Creek and the Lame Deer Divide Road located on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation south of Lame Deer.
Highway 212 is currently closed between Broadus and Crow Agency to all non-residents. Highway 39 is currently open, but this could change at any time due to potential for changing conditions. Residents should continue to check Rosebud County Sheriff’s and DES Facebook pages, Northern Cheyenne Disaster & Emergency Services Facebook page, as well as the Richard Spring InciWeb page, as evacuation and road closure status are being evaluated frequently and could change rapidly.
Evacuation centers are set up at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby and the Multi-Purpose Building in Crow Agency. The Broadus Elementary School is now on standby. The Colstrip Saddle Club can take horses. Please see the Rosebud County Disaster and Emergency Facebook page for additional evacuation location information.