JUDITH BASIN COUNTY - After almost two weeks, colder weather from these past few days gave first responders a boost against the Yogo Fire, but their fight is far from over.
In its first week, you could see the fire’s smoke plumes near Stanford, just 30 miles away. Now, they’re practically non-existent, but crews aren’t out of the woods just yet.
After growing to nearly 5,000 acres with long stretches of heat and low humidity, winter weather’s arrival was a nice change of pace, giving firefighters an edge against remaining hotspots before any future dry spells.
“What we want to do is pay attention to those locations and be prepared watching them and trying to extinguish them and get the heat out of there,” said Erin Fryer, the incident’s fire information officer.
Weather wasn’t the only factor in this progress, with community support from Stanford, Hobson and Lewistown keeping first responders well fed and rested in their downtime.
“We couldn’t have been as successful as we are without their support… I know for us at the Forest Service, certainly we really appreciate everybody coming and being a partner with us on this,” said Fryer.
As those on scene plan for up to 50 mile-per-hour gusts and possibly falling timber, they’ve shrunk their area closure significantly, letting people return to lower parts of Yogo Creek, Tollgate and Judith River’s Middle Fork.
“You know rifle season is coming up, so that’s been a big factor… and we’ve tried to accommodate for additional recreation,” said Fryer.
While you can recreate in some areas, Fryer asks anyone traveling nearby to stay out of closed off sites for their own safety.
As of the writing of this article, the fire is 30% contained, spanning over 4,909 acres.