Fire scorches 100 acres to edge of Yellowstone River

Thursday, May 7, 2020
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Grinding work on the railroad tracks just before noon last Friday sparked a 100-acre fire just east of Columbus, before being stopped to the south by the Yellowstone River

A 911 call came into the Stillwater County Sheriff’s Office dispatch center at 11:58 a.m. on May 1 regarding a “very large grass fire from track grinding” with 15-foot flames already spreading to the trees.

All trains were stopped as Columbus Fire Rescue, Park City and Absarokee fire crews responded and quickly discovered they could not access the flames.

“(There was) very limited access to the fire due to the fire being south of the tracks, and we encountered a lot of swamp ground,” said Columbus Fire Chief Rich Cowger.

After a couple of hours, crews were finally able to get some trucks on scene, and appropriately named it the “No Access Fire.”

We did finally get some trucks on it after a couple hours of searching.

Cowger said crews determined that due to there being no structures at risk and the fact that the undergrowth in the area was thick, it “was better to not put folks into the fire, as it was just going to burn to the river.”

Which is precisely what it did. The fire ended up being surrounded by water on three sides, but fire crews remained on scene for a few days to monitor it.