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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Fire Southeast Of Helena Prompts Highway 12 Closure, Evacuation Orders

A photo of the Deep Creek Fire near Helena, posted by the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest on the morning of June 15, 2021.
Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest
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A photo of the Deep Creek Fire near Helena, posted by the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest on the morning of June 15, 2021.

Update 06/15/21 - 11:30 p.m.

Residents between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs are evacuating after the 180-acre Deep Creek Fire jumped Highway 12 earlier this afternoon, according to a post on InciWeb at 4:20 p.m,.

Meagher County Sheriff John Lopp says evacuations cover the 60-home Grassy Mountain subdivision and the 130-person Springdale Colony of Hutterites.

Lopp says dry, hot, windy weather caused the fire to spread across the highway.

"It’s burning a lot really fast and really hard.”

The Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office said it was shutting down Deep Creek Canyon as of Tuesday afternoon.

Seventy firefighters with helicopters and other heavy equipment are on the blaze. Officials have requested a Type 1 Incident Management team reserved for complex fires, according to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest.

The fire started Sunday on steep, rocky terrain in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest in the south end of the Big Belt Mountains.

The fire’s cause is under investigation, though forest officials say first responders found a downed power line at the scene.

According to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), around 5 p.m. a helicopter working the fire "experienced a hard landing that resulted in fire." All 5 people on board got out safely.

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