GREAT FALLS — Pre-evacuation notices have been ordered for people in the vicinity of two large wildfires - the Balsinger Fire burning west of Monarch and Neihart, and the Harris Mountain Fire burning south of Cascade.
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said on Sunday evening that his deputies and the Montana Highway Patrol are issuing pre-evacuation notices for the northern part of the Belt Creek Drainage area and the town of Monarch.
They are also also doing pre-evacuations for the Sheep Creek Lane area and south of the town of Cascade.
There will be a town hall meeting in the community park in Neihart on Monday, July 26, at 7 pm.
The lightning-sparked Balsinger Fire, located about seven miles west of Neihart, started on July 8 is being managed as part of the Divide Complex with the Ellis Fire. It is one of several wildfires burning on the White Sulphur Springs Ranger District of the Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest. As of Sunday, it has burned an estimated 5,203 acres as of Sunday evening.
The lightning-sparked Harris Mountain Fire, about 10 miles southeast of Cascade, has burned an estimated 6,500 acres as of Sunday evening.
There have been no reported injuries or damaged structures associated with either of these fires.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center for residents displaced by the Harris Mountain Fire. Is is at Cascade High School, 321 Central Avenue. Residents who check in there will have access to services including a safe place to stay, meals, and other community resources. All Red Cross services are free. For more information, call 800-272-6668.