Wildfires: Entire Montana Town Ordered to Evacuate Due to Richard Spring Blaze

by Jon D. B.

Thousands are being evacuated from Lame Deer, Montana as the Richard Spring wildfire rages across the state, decimating hundreds of square miles.

More than 100 large wildfires currently rage across the American West. Now, Montanans and their livestock are in serious trouble. Extreme drought continues to lead to deadly wildfires across the West, with the town of Lame Deer being the latest victim.

The Richard Spring wildfire began Sunday and spread rapidly amidst 56 mph winds. As of Thursday, over 260 square miles have burned or are burning. Currently, the fire burns less than a mile from the eastern edge of Lame Deer: a town made up of 2,000 people via reservations and subdivisions.

As the weeks rolls on, horrific wildfires now burn to both the east and west of Lame Deer. As a result, Northern Cheyenne Tribe spokesperson Angel Becker tells the Associated Press that their reservation has been ordered to evacuate.

Some, however, refused to leave their homes. With the threat looming from both sides, though, the urgency has become much clearer.

“We had some people who refused, but the majority of our elders and women and children had definitely left with that last push,” Becker tells AP.

So far, Montana firefighters are preventing the blazes from taking Lame Deer. No houses have been reported destroyed. But fire officials remain on top of the wildfires, which show no signs of slowing.

Montana Wildfire Closes in on Lame Deer, Ashland

“I didn’t think it would cross the highway so I didn’t even move my farm equipment,” adds rancher Jimmy Peppers.

Peppers continues to herd his cattle onto neighbors’ pastures away from the fires. He has no choice if he is to protect them, as well as his livelihood. Many ranchers are facing the same dilemma.

Nearby Ashland is now evacuating 600 citizens, as well. Thankfully, officials now believe the small town is out of harm’s way “for now.” But the destruction to rural areas, pastures, and farms remain.

“We fully recognize the value of grass around here,” says fire spokesperson Jeni Garcin. “There’s enough lost in this fire that we will be very strategic about how we do any of these burnouts.”

As much of America continues to face extreme droughts and heat, wildfires continue to rage. Much of the Montana region is considerably warmer – and drier – than it was 30 years ago. Weather, fire, and forest officials cite climate change as the cause of the West’s horrific fires.

Drought leads to vegetation becoming powder-keg-dry kindling for wildfires. No rain means more fires, and more fires means less rainfall. It’s a vicious cycle that holds devastating consequences for much of the country.

AP cites more than 100 large wildfires are currently burning in the American West. The currently burning Dixie Wildfire is now the largest in California’s history.