By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
After consuming over 21,000 acres of forest and grassland in three short days, the Robertson Draw Fire north of Park County has slowed its pace somewhat in the last 24 hours, officials reported Thursday.
Custer-Gallatin National Forest officials say that the fire south of Red Lodge, Montana grew by about 3,000 acres overnight, thanks to milder weather conditions which allowed fire crews to work on the northeastern, eastern, and southeastern sides of the fire.
According to the nation’s official wildfire website, inciweb.nwcg.gov, the fire was human-caused, although it is still under investigation.
Homes and campgrounds in the area of the fire are under an evacuation order, which means residents are urged to leave their homes immediately. All area residents have also been urged to have a household evacuation plan ready, and told to remain vigilant.
An area closure is in place for the area south of Highway 212, east to the area along the Beartooth Front and south to the Wyoming border.
There are currently 162 people actively fighting the blaze, according to forest officials.
On Tuesday, crews and equipment worked to tie in bulldozed containment lines to burned areas that had cooled down in the rangeland grass areas.
Meanwhile, air tanker water and retardant drops were conducted along the northwest side of Mount Maurice to check fire spread.
The fire remained active along portions of the northern edge and in the timbered areas south of Mount Maurice.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Temporary Flight Restriction over the area of the Crooked Creek Fire to provide a safe environment so firefighting aircraft may operate in the area.