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Highway 200 re-opened, but fire may cause periodic closures - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Highway 200 re-opened, but fire may cause periodic closures

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Alice Creek Fire (Photo from Inciweb) Alice Creek Fire (Photo from Inciweb)

The Alice Creek Fire has burned an estimated 24,128 acres as of Saturday morning.

On Friday evening, due to active fire behavior, the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation for 11 residents along Highway 200.

Highway 200 was also temporarily closed east of Lincoln at the intersection of Highway 279 east to the intersection with Highway 287.

At midnight, the road was re-opened, but due to active fire behavior expected on Saturday, the highway may need to be closed at intervals.

The Montana Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s deputies are patrolling the road to maintain safety.

Drivers should use Highway 200 only if necessary and are asked to please drive cautiously. Smoke is limiting visibility. 

A temporary shelter is available for evacuees at the Wolf Creek School (150 Walsh St, Wolf Creek, MT). Area residents that may need assistance are encouraged to call the American Red Cross at 1-800-272-6668.

Here is the latest information on the fire from Inciweb

Very warm and dry overnight conditions last night kept firefighters busy throughout the night, particularly in the Elk Meadow/Evergreen subdivision where the fire is skirting above the structures. Fire engines are spread across the community, ready to respond should an ember establish in an area that immediately threatens the area. Water pumps are feeding sprinklers in strategic locations to wet the area and lower temperatures as much as possible. 

Personnel are using all available equipment to respond to the fire’s movements that immediately threaten infrastructure. Dozers, skidgens and feller bunchers (“clippers”) are improving existing roads across the entire southern flank. These roads are serving as containment lines to help protect unincorporated communities and ranches near the fire. 

A heliwell (large tank) has been placed east of the fire for use by helicopters. Heliwells can hold up to 5,000 gallons of water. Having this close to the fire makes a quick “turnaround” time for helicopters to fill their buckets rapidly and return to the fire. A dozer and skidgen are working in the Falls Creeks area constructing direct and indirect fire line from Falls Creek drainage east to Falls Creek Ridge to prevent further fire spread to the north. 

The Alice Creek Fire is now approximately 24,128 acres. More accurate mapping will occur tonight to determine the past 48 hours of fire growth. 


MONTANA FIREWATCH

More than 4,000 firefighters (rural, volunteer, state, military, federal, and more) have been involved in the battle against the fires this season; two of them lost their lives fighting fires in western Montana.

As of Thursday, an estimated 1,005,803 acres have burned in Montana in 2017. The number of acres burned by lightning-caused fires is 914,574; the acres burned by human-caused fires is 91,229.

The total number of wildfires so far this year is 1,687. Of those, 746 were lightning-sparked, and 951 were caused by people/vehicles. 

The figures come from the Northern Rockies Coordination Center, which is part of the National Interagency Fire Center. The number of fires and acreage is slightly less than the figures reported by the agency on Wednesday, due in part to more accurate mapping of fire perimeters.

According to Bullock's office, the cost of fighting the fires has reached about $284 million so far in 2017; an estimated $53 million of that came directly from the state budget, and the rest from federal monies.

MONTANA FIRES: HOW YOU CAN HELP

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