Syndicated by: Montana News
by: Donald Cyphers Investigative reporter
According to Lt. Kent O'Donnell of the Yellowstone Co. Sheriff's Department and Office Interim DES Director, approximately 1030 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018, Billings 911 Emergency Center starting receiving calls related to power outages, grass fires, explosions, sparks and fire shooting into the sky.
These reports pertained to multiples locations from 64th St West to 80th St West and from Grand Ave to south of King Ave West, which is a large area with limited and restrictive access points. Arriving law enforcement and fire agencies could see multiple locations affected and initiated a Mutual Aid page out for assistance.
The fire investigation is in the initial stages but the preliminary suspected cause was a train had struck a major 100k volt power line running east/west, causing multiple grass fires west of the railroad tracks.
It is presumed the power lines were low hanging from another incident. At the time of the fire, weather reports warned of 40-50 mph winds moving into the area and causing immediate concern for the multiple residential subdivisions.
Crews from Molt, Laurel, Blue Creek, Worden, Shepherd, Park City, Columbus, Billings Fire, and DNRC responded. The 35 acre blaze was contained fairly quickly with mop up and scene safety lasting through most of the night.
No permanent structures were lost or damaged. Two storage semi-trailers containing miscellaneous construction equipment, fuel truck, tractor, boat, various small machinery, and bulk storage tanks were damaged or destroyed. Heavy civilian vehicle traffic attempting to view the fire did hinder arrival of incoming fire-fighting equipment to combat the blaze..
A reminder to the public to please refrain from traveling to active fire sites allowing the emergency crews to focus on containment of fires and minimize the amount of property damage. "to the Montana Highway Patrol for their assistance in traffic control." says Lt. Kent O'Donnell.