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

Evacuation orders in Lewis & Clark County; Firefighting plane crashes

Burned areas and smoke amid the trees on The Horse Gulch Fire in Lewis & Clark County on July 09, 2024.
Burned areas and smoke amid the trees on The Horse Gulch Fire in Lewis & Clark County on July 09, 2024.

An evacuation order has been issued by the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's office for the Cave Gulch to Magpie Gulch area south of York due to a nearby fire. The Horse Gulch Fire is burning 600 acres south of York and a couple miles north of Canyon Ferry Reservoir. The evacuation order was issued around 4 p.m. Wednesday, and expanded around 5:50 p.m.

Earlier in the day the Sheriff’s office issued a pre-evacuation notice for both the Horse Gulch and Cave Gulch areas. Officials said people in the area should evacuate if conditions change.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Helena.

A small firefighting airplane working the fire on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest crashed today. At this hour, the condition of the pilot has not been released. Officials tell Montana Public Radio the Single Engine Air Tanker, or SEAT, crashed just after noon. Lewis and Clark County Undersheriff Brent Colbert says the water scooper went down in the Hauser Lake area near the York Bridge.

The Horse Gulch Fire was first reported Tuesday afternoon at around 10 acres, but quickly blew up under hot, dry and very windy conditions.

The most current info is posted on the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

As fire season heats up across Montana, officials say people living in areas prone to wildfires should be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
Fireline probes the causes and consequences of the increasingly devastating wildfires burning in the U.S. It taps into the experience of firefighters, tribal land managers, climate scientists and more to understand how we got here and where we're going.

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