West Wind Fire estimated at 12,500 acres

Thursday, December 2, 2021
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The elevators in Denton burn up as the West Wind Fire hits town on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Photo courtesy of Fergus County Undersheriff Tracy Lewellen

The West Wind Fire that was discovered Monday night in Judith Basin County has now burned an estimated 12,500 acres, according to InciWeb. 

The fire is still considered 0% contained due to the erratic weather conditions and high winds.

This morning, fire officials said the wildland component of the fire was looking better, as fire activity had been minimized overnight. They had been holding the fire about seven miles east of Denton as of this morning, but expected the wind to test containment lines. The evacuation order was lifted for Denton today.

Today, crews are working to secure structures that haven't been burned. An initial estimate put the loss at 25 structures, 10 of which were primary residences.

It was estimated there are 150 personnel working on the fire. An aircraft arrived this morning to map the fire, and would continue aerial work as the weather allowed. Aircraft were not able to fly yesterday due to high winds, and reduced visibility from smoke and dust.

The City of Denton's water supply was depleted on Wednesday and crews have been working off water trucks hauled into town.

The bridge on Highway 81 is completely destroyed from the fire, and crews have been using an alternate route to navigate the area.

The fire was turned over to Montana Department of Natural Resources County Assist Team today at noon. Incident commanders are Don Pyrah of the Northeastern Land Office in Lewistown and Denton Fire Chief Mike DeVries.

Editor's note: This article was corrected from 14,000 to 12,500 acres as a more accurate number was posted to InciWeb.