Posted: Jan 5, 2012 10:42 AM by Shannon Newth
Updated: Jan 6, 2012 9:31 AM
The two wildfires burning in and near Browning have burned an estimated 18,000 acres, according to new information from DES officials.
Fire crews from across the region are still battling the fires, and they were helped by some light rain early Thursday morning.
During a morning briefing, officials downgraded the size of the two blazes from the original estimate of 45,000 acres.
The fire near Cut Bank Creek northeast of Browning - the Boy Fire - has burned an estimated 12,000 acres and is now about 75% contained. It destroyed at least four structures, including one home.
The Boy Fire started at approximately 5 p.m. on Wednesday on Duck Lake Road, and then spread east toward Boarding School housing area, threatening the Seville and Hidden Lake colonies. DesRosier says more than 200 people were evacuated from the colonies and school.
The second blaze, known as the Y Fire, started near the "y" intersection of Highway 89 and Highway 2 south of Browning on Wednesday evening.
The Y Fire has burned an estimated 6,000 acres and destroyed 10 to 12 structures, including four homes.
No injuries or fatalities have been reported.
The American Red Cross arrived around 3 a.m. on Thursday to assist with donations and relief items.
As of 5 a.m. on Thursday, Smith says a few families displaced by the fires remain at the Eagle Shield Center in Browning.
Glacier Electric Cooperative crews have been in the field investigating the origin of the fires and tell us that, at this point, they have determined that the fire at the junction of Hwy. 2 and Hwy 89 was not caused by any GEC equipment.
GEC spokeswoman Virginia Harman says that the fire which began near Boarding School was triggered by a downed GEC line. The line broke right at the insulator and is still on the ground. It appears that the fire originated at the point where the line hit the ground. The line was downed due to high winds and possibly debris. Harman added that there are no poles or other GEC structures down at the site.
GEC is still looking into the three smaller fires that were reported to determine if any GEC equipment was involved.
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Primary photo above courtesy of Kyle Berkram; other photos courtesy of Angelika Harden-Norman, Kailey Hall, and Debbie Schildt.