Residents of the town of Denton will soon be able to return home following Wednesday's devastating fire. Although there have been no serious injuries, the fire destroyed approximately 25 structures, including grain elevators and bridges.
The community was ordered to evacuate at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday due to the fast-moving West Wind Fire, which sparked in Judith Basin County at about 11:15 p.m. on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. Strong winds quickly pushed the fire east across Highway 80 toward Denton.
Fergus County Sheriff Rick Vaughn said in a news release that they expect to release the community of Denton and surrounding areas from the evacuation status by noon on Thursday.
He added: "We encourage the community to not let its guard down as we expect high winds again today."
Only essential traffic will be allowed into the area as responders are still fighting the fire. The south side of Highway 81 in Denton still doesn’t have power as of 9:00 a.m.
Sheriff Vaughn said: "We would like to stress that when we open this back up to the community that it is essential people only and to be sure and not hinder the firefighters doing their job. Highway 81 west of Denton will continue to be closed due to a bridge being burned out. The Fergus County Sheriff’s Office will continue to provide law enforcement support including security in the Denton Community."
Rural fire agencies are continuing work to prevent any further fire spread or damage. This work will continue for several more days.
Sheriff Vaughn thanked the community and emergency services from across Montana for "doing what Montanans do when their neighbors are having a bad day. Montanans step up and lend a hand and get the job done."
He said that they plan to release a complete list of affected properties as soon as damage assessments are conducted.
We will keep you updated as we get more information, including any donation drives or fundraisers to help the people affected.
(UPDATE) Fergus County DES posted on Facebook: "Extreme winds caused the fire to enter the town of Denton. The wind not only spread the fire, it spread ash, embers, smoke and debris throughout town. Spot fires erupted between homes, vehicles and other buildings which pushed resources beyond their limits. Travel and visibility were very difficult. The weather also prohibited aircraft support which added to the problem."
- (WEDNESDAY, 1:44 pm) Wildfire forces evacuation of the town of Denton