BOZEMAN – 60 Firefighters are now working on the 10,000-acre Millie Fire, on the on the Gallatin National Forest 20 miles south of Bozeman.
The fire has grown quickly in the 48 hours since it was discovered, and now spans from the Storm Castle Creek drainage, about three miles east of Rat Lake near the Blanchard inholding (west end) to Mount Bole, on its easternmost flanks.
The fire made a large run to the north and east late yesterday afternoon, Aug. 29, and officials estimate it has moved northwest to Telephone Ridge, along Stormcastle Divide Trail #417, to Timber Butte, Alex Lowe Peak, Mount Bole and the upper reaches of the South Cottonwood drainage.
At a community meeting last night the Incident Commander Dan Cottrell told a crowd of 200 people in the Gallatin Gateway Community Center that the fire was 1,000 acres at 4 p.m. However, an aerial infaraed heat map counted approximately 8,530 at 10 p.m.
The exact acreage is hard to count, Cottrell told Explore Big Sky reporters today.
The fire continues moving north and east, he said, and a pre-evacuation order is out for houses in the South Cottonwood drainage.
Crews worked yesterday to save cabins at the Blanchard inholding, digging a hand line and burning back to the main fire up Storm Castle, a ‘dude’ ranch business. All people and livestock were evacuated. The crew is working now to mop that area up.
“[The fire is] erratic,” Cottrell said. “There are parts where it’s creeping, parts where it’s spotting.”
The fire is approximately five miles as the crow flies from Hyalite Reservoir; however, a larger concern currently is that it will move north up the South Cottonwood drainage.
The air in Bozeman and much of southwest Montana is smoky and the mountains are nearly obscured from view.
The following are closed at the Forest boundary:
· Leverich Canyon
· Hyalite Canyon (Including all cabins and campgrounds)
· South Cottonwood Canyon (Including Fox Creek Cabin)
· Little Bear Road (Including Little Bear Cabin)
The Following are also Closed:
· Storm Castle Road at the Shenango Bridge (Includes Spire Rock Campground and Garnet Mtn. Lookout)
· Swan Creek Road above the Swan Creek Campground
· Moose Creek Road above the Tamphrey Road split
The Following areas are currently open:
· Recreation Residences and river access points along Hwy 191. Residences have not been evacuated.
· Bozeman Creek Trail including Mystic Lake Cabin
The Millie Fire started at approximately 1:05 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon and is burning in heavy dead and down fuels, mixed conifer and sub-alpine fir. Firefighters continue to work on securing an anchor point along the fire’s perimeter.
Several other wildfires are burning in the region, including the 3,000 acre 19-Mile Fire, south of I-90 and West of Whitehall; the 5,000 acre Pine Creek Fire, in the Paradis Valley; and the 1,700-acre Cygnet Fire in Yellowstone, five miles southwest of Canyon.