Montana officials temporarily evacuated a ski lodge on Saturday after a wind-fueled wildfire crept toward the resort.
The blaze, just west of the community of Red Lodge, had grown to 700 acres by Saturday night as winds reached 35 to 50 mph, according to the Associated Press.
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“There’s snow between the ski area and the fire and the timber. But it’s also a solid run of timber from where the fire is to the ski area,” U.S. Forest Service spokesman Jeff Gildehaus told the AP. “So it gets up in the trees and starts running the crowns of the trees and it starts advancing toward the ski area.”
Gildehaus said the decision to evacuate the ski area — the evacuation began around 2:30 p.m. Saturday — was a precautionary move because skiers and firefighters were forced to share a single road in and out of the area, according to the AP.
He estimated about 500 people had fled the resort, but some may have returned hours later when the evacuation was lifted, according to the AP.
“Crazy day on the mountain thanks to a windy afternoon and the fire on West Fork Rd, but we’ll be all systems go tomorrow,” Red Lodge Mountain ski resort posted on their Facebook page late Saturday.
Several miles away, dozens of firefighters continued battling the blaze as it fed on dry foliage Saturday night, according to the AP.
Gildehaus noted that wildfires in the area in late March are uncommon.
“But down in the low elevation, there isn’t any snow and things are pretty dry,” he told the AP. “We haven’t really had any green-up yet where grasses turn green. We got all the dry grass from last year, and things are pretty dry.”