High winds fanned the Roosevelt Creek Fire in Little Missouri National Grassland, causing the blaze to nearly quadruple in size.
The fire on Friday was 40% contained and had burned 1,100 acres. By Saturday it had grown to 4,000 acres and was 10% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Wind gusts in the area reached 35 mph, said Michael Hollan, National Weather Service Meteorologist.
Two North Dakota Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters dumped 26 buckets of water – each holding 550 gallons – on the fire to aid firefighters on the ground. The helicopter crews returned on Saturday, the National Guard said.
The fire started Wednesday about 6 miles north of the Wannagan Campground, north of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It has threatened multiple structures and residences and oil and gas infrastructure. No structures have been lost, the Forest Service said.
Meanwhile, Billings County and National Park Service firefighters were battling a separate fire in the South Unit of the national park, with air support from the National Guard providing water drops, Park Superintendent Wendy Ross said. The fire is 10 acres on the inside of the Loop Road at Boicourt Overlook. The fire, which was 100% contained by late Saturday afternoon, likely started with a flare-up of an existing coal seam fire, Ross said.
Firefighters could get some help in the form of rain Saturday night and Sunday, Hollan said. Scattered showers are expected across western North Dakota. There is a 60-70% of rain in the southwest and south central portions of the state.
Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com