Northern Cheyenne Rez Aflame Again; Lame Deer Evacuated
Lame Deer, Montana, has been evacuated because of yet another fire erupting in southeastern Montana, including on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.
The 2,000-population town, the hub of the Northern Cheyenne, was ordered evacuated along with Jimtown on Thursday night August 2 as the Chalky Fire jumped Highway 212, burning two homes and closing Highway 39 between Lame Deer and Colstrip, the Billings Gazette reported.
The Gazette said more than a dozen people were “camped out at the Exxon gas station at the junction Interstate 90 and Highway 212 with nowhere to go.”
Resident Pam Garza told the Gazette, "The winds picked up so fast and were so strong, acres of fire were just rolling towards us. We had no time to get anything out but ourselves."
According to what Garza told the newspaper, the flames apparently moved faster than fire officials, hitting even before evacuation orders could be issued. Garza said she and extended family members barely escaped as the winds suddenly picked up and flung fire and ash their way.
"I don't think anyone saw it coming," she told the Gazette. "We called the forestry people several times and they said we were safe where we were at. The winds just took the fire and it just got way out of control way fast."
Northern Cheyenne Tribe Disaster and Emergency Services coordinator Ed Joiner told the Gazette that the fire jumped Highway 212 and that the roadway was closed from Crow Agency to Broadus. Northeast of Crow Agency, the Sarpy Hill fires had burned 80 square miles, sending residents fleeing when overnight gusts propelled fire toward their homes overnight, the Gazette reported.
According to InciWeb, the Chalky Fire, at 132,290 acres, was one of six burning south of Rosebud, Montana, in various stages of containment as of August 4, named the Rosebud Complex fires.