The wildfire that started about five miles east of Havre late Tuesday morning, fueled by high winds, was raging out of control Tuesday night.
The fire started on the north side of the Milk River. Winds swept it over the river, where it consumed several fields.
Just as firefighters thought they were gaining ground, conditions worsened. The wind changed directions and straightened.
Starting at about 5 p.m., strong gusts not only fanned the flames and reignited embers, but battered responders and their vehicles with dust storms.
The fire jumped over the river again, and flames, several feet tall, in the area spread through the area, spreading as far east as the Hill-Blaine County line.
By 8 p.m., the fire had reached about halfway to Chinook.
Firefighters from as far away as Hogeland and Fort Belknap were on hand to fight the blaze which was spread over several hundreds acres. Firefighting vehicles from private ranches were even helping out.
Blaine County Fire Department set up several water trucks in the parking lot of The Plainsmen, ready to replenish the ongoing battle. Those trucks were also surrounded by pickups of nearby residents, talking about how their neighbors were faring.
Firefighters were hampered in their efforts by winds that reached more than 30 mph, according to The Weather Channel, with gusts up to 60 mph.
Further forecasts anticipate winds slowing down a little bit, to only 50 mph gusts, and shifting more to the south, which could drive the fire across U.S. Highway 2.
Blaine County Sheriff’s deputies are already stopping drivers on the highway to warn them of emergency vehicles coming and going.
Officials have also, reportedly, been considering closing the highway, if the fire gets too close.