OUTSIDE LINCOLN – Helicopters can be seen and heard dipping for water and taking off again, heading for the Alice Creek Fire burning between Lincoln, Augusta and Wolf Creek.
Wolf Creek-Craig Volunteer Fire Chief Rocky Infanger prepared late Monday morning to finally head home and get some rest; after working the fire since Saturday.
“I, for one, have some serious fatigue going on and they’ve sent up drivers to take me home,” Infanger explained.
The Alice Creek Fire exploded in size over the weekend, requiring many volunteer firefighters to work long hours without a break.
“One thing we’re concerned about is fatigue,” he said.
That fatigue took a toll; both mentally and physically for Rocky and his crew.
“This last particular group came here, we brought them in…what is today, Monday…on Saturday and we’re getting some of those released this morning,” he said.
Multiple volunteer departments sent members to help, including the Lincoln, Wolf Creek-Craig and Augusta departments.
“The volunteers are awesome. They’re leaving their jobs to come here and help. They’re more than willing to do that and we thank them for that,” Infanger expressed.
Mandatory evacuation orders from Elk Meadows east to the south fork of the Dearborn River were made early Monday morning.
Sharkey Chambers owns a cabin in that area and came Monday to Copper Creek Road outside Lincoln to retrieve some of his belongings; he was met by another road block due to changing weather conditions and the fire shifting directions.
“I’m here to get firearms that are in the cabin, if they’ll let me,” Chambers told MTN early Monday afternoon.
Chambers said it is frustrating, but he’s thankful for everything these fire crews have done.
“We’ve had a lot of fires here over the years. But without them we wouldn’t have anything,” he said.
Alice Creek Road is also closed as of Monday and Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s deputies worked to check people out to ensure their safety.
As the fire continues to burn, thick walls of smoke is created, masking the hard work of everyone involved. Chief Infanger said his crew continues to work the fire and protect surrounding ranches.
While he does not know when this fire will be extinguished, he knows one thing for sure.
“The emotions are very high out here. I have a structure responsibility, they [ranchers] have a livelihood.”