Jul 15, 2023

Crews continue to battle Pryor Creek Road wildfire

BILLINGS - Fire crews continued Wednesday to battle a wildfire south of Billings that threatened numerous homes in the Pryor Creek area on the Crow Reservation.

A spokesman for the BIA Crow Agency fire management team said Wednesday morning officials had reduced the estimated size of the fire from the 10,000 acres reported Tuesday evening to between 1,000 and 2,000 acres. An accurate estimate would be made Wednesday through mapping efforts, spokesman Jon Kohn said in a press release.

"Managers have estimated from 250 to 10,000 acres – burned areas do not shrink, but in the heat of protecting values at risk (life and property), measuring a fire’s size accurately is sometimes not a priority," Kohn said in the press release. "Throughout Tuesday, efforts focused on protecting threatened homes and structures. Two outbuildings were lost and 20 to 30 homes were threatened."

The fire broke out at about 1:20 p.m. Tuesday afternoon in farm fields near Hay Creek, located about four miles northeast of Pryor. Hot weather and strong winds helped the blaze burn through grass and creek bottoms. Officials said the fire was human-caused.

Numerous agencies responded to the wildfire.

Kohn said the fire on Wednesday was headed into less inhabited ranchlands east of Pryor Creek toward the Wild Horse Ridge and Beauvaus Creek areas.

"Resources on the fire or available today include a great many aircraft and engines from cooperating nearby agencies," Kohn said in the press release. "BIA Crow and Pryor engine crews returned to quarters before dawn for mandatory recuperation, but Crow Agency helicopter and firefighters will be working the fire today."

Kohn said the agency would provide another update on Wednesday evening.

RELATED: Update: Pryor Creek Road fire grows to 10,000 acres