Burning stump in Creek Fire

The Creek Fire's official flickr page describes the picture as, "Often Stumps continue to burn after the fire has passed so crews mopping up remove the heat by digging in and around the stump feeling for heat as they go." Courtesy Northern Rockies Incident Management Team No. 4.

MADERA COUNTY, CA - After weeks of helping out wherever they could against one of California’s biggest wildfires, Saturday marks Montanan crews’ last day of firefighting on the West Coast. 

As weather across Central Montana gets colder, dry and hot conditions continue fueling the Creek Fire, but combined efforts got over half of it contained, since Northern Rockies Incident Management Team Four arrived in late September. 

Across location switches and an extended stay of 21 days on the fire’s north side, they pushed through timber and heat, extinguishing hot spots before they could flare up again. 

“Our crews out there are really focusing on pulling any sources of heat farther away from the containment lines,” said Kira Powell, the team’s public information officer. 

Since arriving, they’ve expanded their efforts, clearing fallen trees for the public’s eventual return and rehabilitating sites, removing safety covers from non-threatened buildings.

Plus, with the progress made, they’re allowing some to return and protect their private property.

“These folks were able to receive a permit through the sheriff’s department and be escorted into their property in order to winterize their cabins, take care of private property concerns, as they’ve not been able to access this property for quite some time now,” said Powell. 

NRIMT4 could always come back and respond to firefighting calls in the future, but until then, Powell says working together with other agencies in the golden state has been an inspirational community experience. 

“It’s important for me to remember that we’re all in this together, and we can all help each other out when needed because this is a national effort in order to handle some of these fires,” said Powell. 

The 60 person crew plans on driving home Sunday, and a team of Californian firefighters will continue where they left off. 

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