Posted: Sep 13, 2013 7:06 PM by Jason Laird - MTN News
A storm headed from Colorado to Montana has been causing some concern on Friday especially for those living near burn scar areas across eastern Montana.
One area of concern is South of Red Lodge - site of this summer's only major fire in this region - the Rock Creek Fire.
The Rock Creek Fire is 100 percent contained at this point but crew are still monitoring hot spots with little concern of re-ignition. However, rains on the horizon bring a different side to this story.
Montana burn scars have been hit hard this summer, as short term cloud burst drop massive amounts of moisture in just minutes.
Could this spell future disaster for some Red Lodge residents? To determine that, it is important to take a look at just how the Rock Creek Fire actually "burned".
Jeff Gildehaus from the Beartooth Ranger District, said, "We had various levels of fire intensities here in the Rock Creek Fire. In this area it burned really hot, but up higher on some of the adjacent slopes, you can see less fire intensity and a mosaic of live trees as well as flash burned trees, and completely un-burned trees."
There's no doubt the risk of flooding has jumped but experts say the mountains near Red Lodge actually fare better than other burn scars across eastern Montana.
"The soils here are also very course. You can see thick grains, as well as a lot of rock. And that's going to reduce the potential for a large debris flow type event in these areas," Gildehaus said.
And on top of the difference in terrain past wildfires actually helped keep the Rock Creek Fire in check.
Gildehaus explained, "This fire was 950 acres, compared to the 11,000 acre Cascade Fire in 2008."
The rains that followed the Cascade Fire created mudslides and debris flow throughout the area.
Red Lodge locals are hoping that history will not repeat itself this time around.
The Beartooth Ranger District says it's biggest concern for next summer is controlling noxious weeds throughout the burn scar.