(HELENA) In the event of a wildland fire threatening human life, the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office Department oversees evacuations, often with no time to spare.


Sheriff Leo Dutton provided the following information to KTVH:


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When we show up to your house and say you have to leave now, we’re not going to argue with you. There are many of your neighbors we have to reach. So we’re not going to stay and repeat it. It’s a shock to the system, but you need to leave then.


And right now is the time to prepare for that evacuation. Practice and prepare your family with various routes to evacuate in case one or more escape routes are closed off. Have essential medicine and paperwork ready to go. Establish a rendezvous point if your family is separated. And have a plan for the furry or feathered members of your family.


If you have pets, animals, or stock, hopefully, you’ve planned ahead. If you’re out and fire comes, and you’re at a checkpoint, that’s a difficult decision for us. We would rather you live than perish in a fire trying to retrieve a pet.


The sheriff’s department will use reverse 911 calls, social media, and local media to alert the public of an evacuation. But they will also be out there, knocking on doors, putting their lives at risk.


We work in partnership with the fire department now. They’re our lookout. They’ll spare a brush truck to be the eyes and ears to say you’re still good, and you’re still good.


But the moment that fire turns, firefighters will order the deputies to evacuate. So in the end, in the event of an evacuation where life is on the line, what you do right now will help you when there’s nothing you can do but leave.