Various Fires Continue to Burn in Crow Agency, Montana

In a report from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a firefighter received surgery on his lower leg Tuesday afternoon after cutting himself with an ax while fighting the Lone Tree Fire. The firefighter had been stripping bark from a cottonwood before felling it. Fire Management Officer Dale Glenmore said that the firefighter's chaps and personal protective equipment saved him from a worse injury.

Thanks to the presence of a reconnaissance flight nearby, the Crow helicopter crew was able to fly the injured firefighter to the Indian Health Service hospital in Crow Agency within 32 minutes of the call.

The single large cottonwood tree burned from a lightning strike in a swampy area between St. Xavier and Fort Smith Monday evening, but personnel could not reach the area in the dark and rain that night. Engine 202 returned yesterday morning to find the tree flaming halfway up into the tree's crown. The tree was eventually felled so the engine crew could extinguish the fire before it spread into nearby dry areas.

The tree being struck was one of what officials estimate to be at least 3,000 lightning strikes on the Reservation Monday. Rain that night made finding burn areas difficult yesterday, but the helicopter reconnaissance was out seeking smoking areas across the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Reservations yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday morning, Engine 203 soaked the 1/2-acre East Wyola fire, which was started by lightning on a ridgetop east of I-90 near Wyola. The Lodge Grass Volunteer Fire Department and Crow Tribal Fish & Game volunteered to contain the fire in the rain Monday night.