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July 28, 2008 1:50 pm

Cascade Fire kicks off Saturday near Red Lodge

Written by Tribune Staff

Lighting ignites fire on the North Fork
About 5,100 acres of burning trees have forced evacuations and brought in a type I fire-management team to take over the Cascade Fire about 10 miles west of Red Lodge, Mont.
According to a Monday morning fact sheet issued by the Custer National Forest, there was zero containment as of Monday.
Cascade began burning Saturday afternoon and is in the west fork of the Rock Creek drainage, said Ken Britton, Gardiner District Ranger.
Custer National Forest officials said the fire nearly doubled on Sunday.
At this time, officials are not sure the cause of the blaze, but believe it began in the vicinity of Cascade Campground.
“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” said U.S. Forest Service Spokesman Jeff Gildehaus.
The West Fork of Rock Creek Road is closed at the junction with Red Lodge Mountain SkiResort. Grizzly Peak subdivision and the West Fork of Rock Creek above Timbercrest Girl Scout Camp have been evacuated.
Five homes and an outbuilding at Camp Senia recreation-residence area have been lost, Gildehaus said.
More evacuations were expected as the fire advanced on Red Lodge.
“The (Red Lodge) ski area is right in front of the fire that is moving down the canyon,” Gildehaus said.
Because structures are threatened, efforts will be made to extinguish the blaze.
“We would definitely be trying to suppress anything that is occupied,” Britton said.
“Heavy air tankers are available for retardant drops,” said the fact sheet. “A heavy, a medium and a light helicopter are the other air attack resources on the fire today (Monday). There are 27 engines, four water tenders a bulldozer, three-20 person hand crews, and 50 overhead support staff are on the fire, totaling 200 personnel.”