A structure is caught in the middle of a huge grass fire Friday afternoon, just east of Laredo Road, south of Havre.
The region survived another major grass fire, the second in two weeks, again with no injuries and no structure damage.
“That was another blessing, ” Kremlin Fire Chief Kody Peterson, who took over as incident commander when he arrived Friday, said this morning.
The cause of the fire is not known, he said.
Peterson said the fire, which the firefighters named the Big Stretch Fire due to the length of property burned, started on Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation, about a quarter-mile east of Laredo Road, and pushed northeast until it finally was contained just north and west of Beaver Creek Dam at the lower lake about midnight Friday.
He said he estimates the fire burned more than 5,000 acres, although he did not have an official size as of this morning.
“That was another blessing, is there was no structure damage and no injuries, ” Peterson added. “It was awesome. ”
The fire came just more than two weeks after another grass fire March 13 burned 12,000 acres in Hill and Blaine counties — also with no injuries and structure damage.
Friday, firefighters and officials including from Kremlin, Gildford, the Bear Paw volunteer firefighters, the Wild Horse firefighters, the Havre Fire Department, Rocky Boy, Blaine County, the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation responded to the blaze, as well as local farmers, ranchers and area residents and local companies bringing heavy equipment and water trucks. Additionally, the Hill County road department and sheriff’s office providing equipment and assistance.
Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom commended all who fought the fire.
“You’ve really got to hand it to those guys, to put out a fire in that kind of wind, ” Brostrom said this morning. “It’s just almost unbelievable. ”
The National Weather Service reported about 2 p. m. Friday at its station at the Havre City-County Airport that the wind was about 32 mph, with gusts into the 40s.
Peterson said the crews were back out Saturday morning and put out three more hot spots, and called it clear Saturday afternoon.
The rain Sunday ended any threat, he said.
“That was a godsend, ” Peterson said.
Things were not looking that good Friday afternoon, he added.
“I was really nervous at about 2 o’clock that afternoon, ” Peterson said. “I didn’t think things were going to be very good. It was ugly. ”
Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Joe Parenteau said the response was immense, both from area firefighters and from people bringing equipment and water.
“There was a lot of support from a lot of people around the community, ” he said.
Peterson said hundreds of people came to help, bringing construction equipment, water tender trucks and general help, including people bringing food and water and Gatorade for the firefighters.
“That was incredibly nice and generous to have that …, ” he added about the food and water.
“I would like to thank everybody involved that offered help, showed up with shovels, anything, anything that was brought, ” Peterson said. “I want to thank everybody so much for coming and helping us. ”