Lightning strikes blaze in grass and timber
Lightning strikes blaze in grass and timber

ROUNDUP - A fire caused by lightning and fanned by gusty winds burned across nearly 1,500 acres of timber and grassland near here Tuesday as crews battled into the night trying to control the flames.

Officials estimated the fire, 36 miles northwest of Roundup, was about 20 percent contained by Tuesday night.

About 200 firefighters, including at least eight smokejumpers, were assigned to the fire and a special management team was planning to take over early Wednesday.

They were aided by air tankers, a helicopter, fire engines and tanker trucks.

The Twin Coulee fire ignited from a lightning strike Monday and flames spread quickly through dry grass into scattered timber, officials said.

A house and unoccupied cabin were threatened, fire information officer Jody Weil said. The house was evacuated.

Allen Edmonds, an assistant fire management officer with the Bureau of Land Management in Miles City, said there were no reports of any injuries.

"We've been hampered by winds late yesterday afternoon and through the night," Edmonds said Tuesday. "There was a small (storm) cell that went through and put a little bit of moisture on the fire last night. It settled down a little bit but this morning it kicked back up."

While temperatures remained cool and skies were overcast Tuesday, winds continued to fan the flames and cause spot fires, Weil said.

Predictions of more strong winds Wednesday had crews hustling to get more of the fire contained. Gusts up to 55 mph were expected, Weil said.

The fire is along the southeast corner of the Big Snowy Mountains. It first headed east but then shifted south, burning through Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and grassland.

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