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Fire north of Havre extinguished


September 3, 2019

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Smoke billows from a grass fire north of Havre Monday.

Two separate fires sent smoke billowing over Havre Monday afternoon, Wildhorse Rural Fire Department Chief Shawn Rismon said, and consumed about 600 acres of cropland and pastures.

"I'm glad that everybody came to help," he said Monday. "We couldn't have done it by ourselves."

Kremlin Rural Fire Department Chief Kody Peterson said Monday that officials are unsure of what started the fires, although the two fires started around the same time.

The first fire, significantly smaller than the second, started on Wildhorse Road, south of the KOJM/KPQX radio station turn off. 

He didn't have an estimate for the size of the smaller fire yesterday, but Havre Fire Chief Mel Paulson said this morning it was less than an acre.

He added that although they do not know what started the fire, he wants to caution people and ask them to be vigilant about their trailers chains, tires and wheel bearings.

The second, 600 acre, fire was located about a mile-and-a-half to two miles east of St. Joe Road.

Rismon said the fire swept across cropland and pastures and ended at the coulee directly north of the radio station, he said.

"With the wind as bad as it was, it's amazing it didn't get further down," he said. "... It turned out pretty good."

Peterson said the wind was a large concern with the fire.

"We were all really nervous about the wind today," he said. "It was pretty vicious and it could have been very ugly."

He added that the wind was blowing the fire toward multiple houses and establishments located on Shepherd Road, but the fire was contained and never got closer than a half-mile to the road. He said no evacuation was needed.

A number of departments were notified of the first fire at about 1:30 p.m., Peterson said. They began to release volunteers and firefighters at approximately 5:30-6 p.m. after the departments were sure the fire was out. He added that he remained on the scene until 7:30 p.m. with a number of other firefighters to assure the wind did not reignite the fire.

St. Joe Rural Fire Department Chief Randy Bessette said the response was great, with a number of departments and locals aiding in fighting the fires. He added that the wind changed directions twice which made it difficult to fight the fire, but because of the number of volunteers and firefighters, they were able to keep the fire managed.

"The amount of people that showed up and the amount of help that was there was amazing," he said.

Peterson said he wanted to thank Box Elder, Wildhorse, Kremlin, Chinook, Havre, Bear Paw and St. Joe fire departments who assisted with fighting the fire; in addition to the Border Patrol, Hill County Sheriff's Office, Montana Highway Patrol and Fish, Wildlife and Parks personnel who helped control the scene. He added that he also wanted to thank Rock Solid, Havre Fire Department, CHS and numerous locals for assisting with collecting water to fight the fire. 

"I can't express my thanks to everybody that helped out," he said.

He added that they were blessed with the amount of support and aid they received while fighting the fire. 

"That's what a community does, it comes together," he said. 

He said a few locals and St. Joe firefighters remained on the scene overnight to assure the fire didn't reignite.


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