(HELENA) The Lewis & Clark County Commission officially declared an emergency on Tuesday in response to the North Hills Fire.
Authorities said on Tuesday that the fire has now burned more than 4,600 acres north of Helena. According to Inciweb, more than 350 firefighters and support personnel have been assigned to the fire. The cause of the fire has not yet been officially determined.
While no structures have been reported lost yet, leaders say buildings and infrastructure around the area are still under threat.
Commissioners said their emergency declaration is a necessary step in order for the county to receive state and federal assistance for their response to the fire.
Roger Baltz, the county’s chief administrative officer, said the county has already incurred overtime costs for deputies working on evacuations, traffic control, and extra patrols. They have also used Public Works resources to improve roads like Snowdrift Road, which firefighters have needed to access the fire and which were so uneven it made it difficult to move equipment on them.
While the declaration was formally approved at Tuesday’s commission meeting, leaders say they have been working on it since the first day of the fire. Commissioners thanked state and federal leaders for their quick work to secure financial assistance.
“What the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation did is stepped up quickly to submit that application to FEMA,” said Commissioner Jim McCormick. “Thank you, DNRC; thank you very much. Our state and federal partners – it’s very impressive, and I’m pleased that it’s turning out the way that it is. We’ll put this last piece in today.”
The county will meet with Montana DNRC on Tuesday to discuss more details on the financial aspects of the response to the North Hills Fire.
There will be a community meeting on Wednesday, July 31, at 7:00 p.m. at the Helena Valley Community Center located at 3552 Tizer Road; the meeting is open to all.
You can find updated information about the fire by clicking here to visit the Inciweb site .
- Reported by Jonathon Ambarian – MTN News