GREAT FALLS — (UPDATE) During the community meeting in Cascade on Tuesday morning, fire managers explained that there are 30 major fires in the Northern Rockies region that are sharing resources. For this reason, resources on Harris Mountain Fire are relatively small and they said they’re having to "play defense and chase the fire."
They’re focusing their efforts on any areas with structures with retardant and dozing. There is also a "strike team" from California helping with the fire. Pre-evacuation and evacuation efforts have started, especially on the south side of the fire. At this point, 60 properties have been evacuated. Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter explained that an orange tag and note on your house means you’ve been ordered to evacuate. He noted that people can choose to ignore the warning, but stressed that no one is coming back to help them.
Sheriff Slaughter also strongly encouraged everyone to sign up and get the Code Red app on their phone. Signing up will enable you to get emergency alerts. The Code Red system is free - but you must sign up to receive alerts. Alerts can be issued for severe weather, fires, missing persons, and other emergencies. Click here to visit the Code Red website to learn more and/or to register.
(TUESDAY, 5:41 a.m.) The Harris Mountain Fire (Inciweb) has burned an estimated 19,103 acres as of Tuesday morning, growing by more than 7,000 acres since Monday.
The fire was sparked by lightning on Friday, July 23, and is about seven miles southeast of the town of Cascade. As of Tuesday, there have been no reported injuries or damaged structures.
There will be a community meeting on Tuesday, July 27, at 10 a.m. at the Wedsworth Hall and Community Center at 13 Front Street South in Cascade.
On Monday afternoon the Cascade County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents on Sheep Creek Lane, Sheep Creek Road, and Austin Lane. The alert stated that those residents are in imminent danger due to the fire and that first responders would not enter the area to rescue residents who did not evacuate.
Residents on Novak Creek Lane were issued a pre-evacuation warning on Monday afternoon. Pre-evacuation means that people in the affected area should prepare to evacuate if the need arises, including having a "go bag" packed with necessary items.
- Face masks or coverings
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person
- Map marked with at least two evacuation routes
- Prescriptions or special medications
- Change of clothing
- Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
- An extra set of car keys; credit cards and/or cash
- First aid kit
- Flashlight; battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Sanitation supplies
- Copies of vital documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
On Sunday evening, Cascade County issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents south of mile marker 7 on Adel Road due to a lack of escape routes.
Approximately 60 residences have been affected by the evacuation orders and notifications.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Cascade School (321 Central Ave W) for residents displaced by the Harris Mountain Fire. Families can also request Red Cross services by calling 800-272-6668.
The Harris Mountain Fire grew more than 7,000 acres on Monday with growth occurring in all directions, but mostly to the east and southeast. Fire activity increased in the afternoon once the inversion lifted and continued late into the evening due to thermal belts creating ideal burning conditions in the heavily timbered draws. Air tankers dropped loads of retardant on the northeastern edge of the fire until windy conditions caused efforts to become ineffective. Firefighters and heavy equipment worked to construct fireline where feasible while others continued to provide point source protection near structures.
There are 209 personnel assigned to the fire; resources include: two Type 1 Crews 'Hotshots', three Type 2 Initial Attack Crews, three dozers, and five engines. Miscellaneous air resources are available as well.
This is the most recent map provided by Inciweb: