The Benchmark Fire is now 50 acres, burning approximately 1 mile west of the north end of the Benchmark Airstrip on the Lewis & Clark National Forest's Rocky Mountain District.

The fire is burning in heavy timber and steep slopes on a ridge between Straight Creek and the South Fork of the Sun River. Firefighters initially attacked the fire on the ground but had to withdraw for safety reasons when the fire activity heated up and made several runs in the crown. Suppression tactics shifted to using aerial resources with two light helicopters using bucket drops and four aerial tankers dropping fire retardant with the assistance of a lead plane and an air attack plane controlling aerial operations.

This map shows the location of the Benchmark Fire, west of Augusta on the Lewis & Clark National Forest, and trail closures related to the fire. (USFS Photo)

A mandatory evacuation order is in effect for the upper portion of the Benchmark Road corridor. The area being evacuated includes recreational cabins, Forest Service campgrounds, heavily used trailheads, , and a Forest Service rental cabin.

To provide for public safety and security of the evacuated structures, a road block is in place on the Benchmark Road near the Benchmark Wilderness Ranch to prevent entry into the evacuated area. Please use extra caution if traveling in the area, and watch for and yield to fire and other emergency vehicles.

Firefighters being released from the Sucker Creek Fire north of Lincoln are being re-assigned to the Benchmark Fire. A Type 2 Incident Management Team will take over management of the Benchmark fire on Friday. The team will also be responsible for the Family Peak complex and a 50-acre fire reported Wednesday near Sheep Mountain, about five miles west of Gibson Reservoir.