(UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.) The estimated size of the Deep Creek Fire is now 2,000 acres, and officials confirmed that several structures have been lost.
Incident Command reported on Tuesday a spot fire started on the East flank and escaped spreading rapidly in red flag conditions. Ground crews responded, but the fire spread faster than could be contained.
Details on what kind of structures were destroyed have not yet been released.
(UPDATE, 6:30 pm) The Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation (DNRC) confirmed Tuesday evening that a DNRC helicopter had a "hard landing" while responding to the Deep Creek Fire at about 5:00 pm.
While en route to the Helibase, the aircraft experienced a hard landing that resulted in a fire. Video from the Broadwater Reporter shows flames and thick black smoke coming from the wreckage.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen said in a social media post that it happened right in front of Montana Highway Patrol trooper Amanda Villa, who "helped get the crew members to safety before the chopper erupted in flames."
All five people on board were taken for medical assessments assessed at the Billings Clinic Broadwater in Townsend and St. Peter’s Health in Helena.
There is no word yet on what caused the incident.
(1st REPORT, 5:34 pm) The Deep Creek Fire has crossed Highway 12 due to strong winds on Tuesday and is burning to the north; Highway 12 is closed east of Townsend.
The U.S. Forest Service reports air attack is on-scene, and it is a rapidly evolving situation due to the wind and hot temperature. A Type 1 team has been ordered.
Law enforcement has Highway 12 closed to most eastbound traffic at the intersection with Highway 284, the road to Canyon Ferry. Residents are only being allowed in as far as Ross Gulch.
Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest officials said that residents in the Thomason to the Grassy Mountain Subdivision are asked to follow the Meagher County Sheriff Office's evacuation instructions and head to the high school in White Sulphur Springs. The Meagher County Sheriff Office began evacuating the Springdale Colony around 3:00 p.m.
The Broadwater County Sheriff's Office will also be evacuating people in the area. Any resident in the area that feels that their home may be threatened by the fire should evacuate immediately.
The Montana Red Cross has opened an evacuation center for residents displaced by the fire; it is located at the White Sulphur Springs Senior Citizens Center, 101 1st Avenue SE. Residents who check in there will provided services including a safe place to stay, meals, and access to other community resources. All Red Cross services are free. Families who need services should call the Montana Red Cross at 800-272-6668
We will update you as we get more information.
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