August 18th - Hoss Fire Update
The following is an excerpt from the Incident Information System
A plume of smoke was visible from Billings and Interstate 90 Sunday evening August 14, rising from the Bighorn Mountains about ten miles south of Fort Smith on the Crow Indian Reservation. The Hoss fire lit from lightning on an inaccessible cliff face high in Black Canyon, between the Tribal Youth Camp and Bighorn Lake. About 800 acres burned by Monday, August 15.
The fire is deep within Black Canyon under the Crow Tribal buffalo pasture. Because it is in burning on such a difficult steep area, mangers are using crews, engines and helicopters to keep the Hoss fire within the canyon. They do not expect to be able to completely put the fire out.
More than 120 Crow and Northern Cheyenne firefighters were working on the Hoss fire Wednesday, August 17, with help from other agencies too.
While keeping the fire from jumping up into the Tribal buffalo pasture, managers are planning how to shepherd the fire within the canyon, because aircraft alone cannot extinguish the fire and some of the terrain is vertical at the fire's edges too unsafe for any firefighter. Crow Reservation residents can expect to see occasional columns of smoke from this large fire for weeks to come, until snow puts out the last bit. The Hoss fire will continue to play its natural role in the Bighorn ecosystem, because it is in just too tough a spot to completely extinguish.
Bighorn Canyon National Park Involvement
The Hoss Fire began on August 14, 2011 and was reported to the Crow Fire and Aviation, Crow Agency, Montana. Crow Fire and Aviation crews began working the fire that resulted from a previous lightning strike.
On August 15, 2011, the National Park Service (NPS) was requested by Crow Fire and Aviation to establish a temporary Traffic Control point to warn the public of to warn park visitors and boaters of the fire in the Black Canyon area. NPS personnel established a temporary Traffic Control Point on the Ok-A-Beh road and State Highway 313. The public was advised to be aware of aircraft activity along the road were a Helibase had been established and aircraft conducting water drops in the canyon and retrieving water from the Bighorn Lake.
On August 17, 2011, NPS personnel were requested, by the Hoss Fire Helibase Manager, to warn boaters in the Black Canyon area that helicopter activity will continue possibly through the weekend and to be aware. The NPS was requested to conduct boat patrols in the Black Canyon to warn boating traffic on August 18, 2011 through August 21, 2011.
The park's Division of Interpretation and Ok-A-Beh Marina Concessions will be warning visitors and boat traffic at the Afterbay Contact Station and the marina of aircraft operations and the fire location during the weekend. The Black Canyon remains open; however, the campground is still closed due to high water. A fire warning notification concerning the Black Canyon has been posted on the park's website.
The Chief Rangers Office (CRO) has remained in daily contact with the Crow Agency Fire and Aviation Division, the Incident Command, and Division Supervisors assigned to the fire since August 15, 20011. The CRO has also established contact with the Teton Fire Management Office for any additional assistance that may be needed in the future.
As of 0800 hours this morning; August 18, 2011, park facilities and roads were not in danger. The fire is contained completely within the Crow Indian Reservation. The fire has been reported as approximately 700 acres and remains in the Black Canyon drainage. Any additional fire spread would be anticipated to stay within the Crow Indian Reservation and not endanger the recreation area facilities. (See Attached Map)
For additional information please contact Kevin Tillman, Bighorn Canyon Chief Ranger, at (406) 666-3316. As more information becomes available, the CRO will forward it.
Did You Know?
The Crow Reservation may be the largest in the state of Montana at 2.2 million acres, but consider that when first established by treaty in 1851 it was over 38 million acres in size. In relative size it was once larger the current land area of Georgia, today it is about twice the size of Delaware. More...