MTPR

wildfire

In 1949, 13 smokejumpers died in Mann Gulch after being overtaken by fire.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Seventy years ago today, an 18-man smokejumper crew jumped out of a plane into the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness northeast of Helena. Within hours of the jump the crew was overrun by the fire they were sent to stop, and most of the men died.

MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney looks back at the Mann Gulch tragedy, which lead the U.S. Forest Service — for the first time — to approach wildfire as a science.

 Eagle Canyon Fire
Courtesy of Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation

Updated 2:38 p.m., August 3, 2019

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says he is lifting the mandatory evacuation order for the Stickney Creek and Eagle Canyon area at 8 p.m. Roadblocks in the area are currently being removed.

The evacuation order was issued Friday night for the Eagle Canyon Fire, which is burning about 60 acres, four miles northeast of Craig. 

A red flag warning means critical fire weather conditions are in the forecast.
National Weather Service

Updated 8:14 p.m., August 2, 2019

Mandatory evacuation notices are in place in the Eagle Canyon and Stickney Creek areas north of Craig because of the Eagle Canyon Fire, which is burning between 20 and 25 acres. 

The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office is giving evacuation notices to the following roads: Eagle Canyon Road, July Road, Lil’ Valley Road, Werner Drive, North Fork of Beaver Slide Road, Spring Drive, Cold Water Drive.

A firefighter working on the Beeskove Fire in the Rattlesnake Recreation Are near Missoula.
Lolo National Forest

Updated 5:19 p.m., August 1, 2019

Lightning near the south end of the Bitterroot National Forest Wednesday night has sparked a one-tenth acre fire west of Hamilton in the Canyon Creek drainage next to Blodgett Canyon.

Forest Service spokesperson Tod McKay says a few firefighters have been working on the blaze near Barley Creek this afternoon; helicopters have also made water bucket drops.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton addresses a public meeting on the North Hills Fire Friday, July 31, 2019
Corin Cates-Carney

Update to our story filed Wednesday night:

Montana authorities say a the North Hills Fire burning north of Helena is no longer threatening homes and all evacuation orders are being lifted.

Lewis and Clark County sheriff's officials said today all residents will be allowed home in the afternoon. The roads to public areas, including Black Sandy State Park and the White Sandy campground, are expected to re-open by the evening.

Bell 407 helicopter gathering water from the Big Hole River to drop on the Adson Fire near Wise River.
inciweb

Updated: 5:30 p.m., July 31, 2019 

New forest closures were announced due to the North Hills Fire north of Helena, which has burned more than 4,700 acres. 

The Forest Service closure includes the southern Gates of the Mountain wilderness boundary, extending south along the York/Nelson road to York. It also goes west along York Road to the forest boundary, then north following the boundary and Missouri River. 

North Hills fire briefing at the Helena Valley Community Center Monday, July 29
Corin Cates-Carney

Updated 4:50 p.m.

A little after 4 p.m. the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s office Facebook page announced a new evacuation due to a new wildfire for the Beaver Creek area near Nelson. It says a roadblock is in place at the York Bar preventing traffic from traveling north. Travel is still permitted east toward Vigilante Campground.

A view of the North Hills Fire on the morning of July 28, 2019.
inciweb

There’s a public meeting about the North Hills Fire being held at this hour at the Helena Valley Community Center. That fire, first reported Friday afternoon, quickly blew up to more than 4,000 acres, causing evacuation orders to be issued for an estimated 400 homes.

Among the evacuees is Erin Vang, who left her home Saturday quickly.

A map of the North Hills fire area and associated evacuation zones, current as of the morning of July 29, 2019.
InciWeb

Updated 4:45 p.m., July 29, 2019

Lewis and Clark County Emergency Management says it will live-stream tonight's 6:00 p.m. public meeting on the North Hills Fire on it's Facebook page, and that Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation will, too. Click here to go to Lewis and Clark County Emergency Management's Facebook page.

Map of the North Hills fire perimeter and evacuation areas, published 4PM Sunday here:https://bit.ly/2SJqZB1
InciWeb

Updated 10:03 p.m., July 28, 2019

For the North Hills fire, the Red Cross has opened a shelter at Helena First Assembly of God church 2210 Dodge Ave.

Duane Buchi, a spokesperson for the team fighting the North Hills fire says, “the weather treated us a little bit better today, not quite the same winds that we had (Saturday), and fairly moderate (fire) behavior.”

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