So far the fire seems to be moving to the South and thankfully away from the Big J Ranch. I strapped a 5 gallon jug of water on the 4 wheeler just after dark and took a ride partly to see if I could get a better sense of how close the fire was, but mostly to see if any thirsty emergency workers needed a drink. All that I spoke to said that they were doing alright, and that they had people distributing supplies to them regularly. From what I had gleaned from the Gazoo article earlier I was picturing a bunch of cops standing around all day directing traffic with nothing but what they happened to have in their cars when they got the call. Even though none of the several Yellowstone County Sheriff's Department, Montana Highway Patrol, Northwestern Energy, or Yellowstone Valley Electric Cooperative personnel I talked to were particularly in need of my unsolicited services, they all seemed thankful that at least somebody cared enough to check on them.
No problem at all guys, and I'd like to extend a hearty Thank YOU, for doing such a good job getting this under control as quickly as possible and making sure that an already bad situation didn't turn into more of a tragedy than it already is.
This was the view looking South from directly in front of my house just as the sun went down. Too close for comfort if you ask me.
This is another picture of about the same area after dark. The fire's been flaring up like this every so often all night so far. It'll calm down to just a tiny strip of light just peeking over the hilltops, then explode into an enormous inferno when it finds another stand of dry timber to consume.
We went for a drive around midnight to survey the situation and see how it had progressed since I'd last seen it. The traffic had finally settled down to a point where the roads were no longer quite as congested as they had been when I went squeezing between cars on my 4 wheeler earlier in the evening. This is a view of the West side of the actual fire, the picture was taken from the top of the hill on Johnson Lane next to the big water tank.
This was the first picture that Carrie tried to take, before we thought to turn off the flash. The reason I posted it, was to show how much ash is falling out of the sky over the entire area. It's literally falling like snow, and at times I can barely see the yardlights across the road because of the smoke. My eyes feel like they're on fire, and almost everyone is blowing a big wad of black crud out of their noses every five minutes. The whole neighborhood is covered in a thin coat of grey ash, and the thick layer of smoke makes simply breathing a chore. We're just extremely thankful that we're still at home, smoke and all. Our prayers go out to all of those living across the highway that are currently sitting elsewhere, wondering if they still have a home.
I restricted myself to just the immediate area on my early evening 4 wheeler tour since I didn't want to get too far from home in case we needed to evacuate. Most of the blocked off access roads with the emergency personnel I was looking for are within a mile or two of my house anyway. As I mentioned earlier, we did load up and take a drive later on to see how much the fire had spread and decided to check out the area where the fire had jumped I90. Hundreds of hot spots still flickered like campfires for as far as the eye could see on both sides of the interstate, but the eye couldn't see all that far through the inky smoke that blanketed everything. We couldn't see the glow from the fire to the Northeast either, and I wanted to find out if there were a possibility that the fire could sneak around behind us from that direction, so we turned off at Pryor Creek and took the backroad over to Huntley. There didn't seem to be much action in that direction however, so hopefully the crews have been successful on that front anyway. Besides providing another potential path to my neck of the woods, there's a lot of houses between here and there, and I hate to think about how many of them could be in the fire's path should the wind shift.
Anyway, that's all I know so far. This is your favorite live on the scene roving reporter signing off.