Harris Fire burns 800 acres of rancher's pasture

JOLIET, Mont. - A Joliet rancher said the Harris Fire burned about 800 acres of his pasture. Fortunately, he was able to get his animals evacuated with some help from friends.

The Harris Fire has burned 2700 acres northeast of Joliet. It is 80% contained as of the time of this article. 

"The worst part was the fire got the grass we were saving for fall, so we're pretty much out of grass at this point," Rancher Bob Hull said.

Hull said they were about 15 minutes ahead of the fire while evacuating their animals.

"The flames were right behind us," he said. "And, that's when the wind had it."

Hull has a little more than 100 cows. He said they own a lot of the land on Cole Creek Road. Some of ground is leased and some is private.

Due to the fire, Hull said they are close to not having any pasture left. He said they are good for about a month.

Right now, Hull said they are looking at options:

"Selling cows is an option, but when everybody's selling cows, that's not always a good one. We do have some hay. I hate to feed it this summer, because we'd like to keep some cows. So, we've been looking at all kinds of options, like weaning cows early. I'm not sure what we're going to do. It sounds like they are going to open some emergency grazing and CRP ground. And, we have neighbors who have CRP that we might be able to use. We haven't got a plan for sure, but we're looking at things."

Through it all, Hull is staying positive.

"Sometimes it's good to cull cows down," he said. "You pick out the ones you don't like. So, there's some good that comes out of it. And, the grass is going to be real good next year. They say that retardant is like a fertilizer."

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