UPDATE: 10:00 p.m.: Four structures were burned in the Alice Creek Fire, but there is no official word on what kind of structures were lost.
Fire officials held a public meeting in Augusta to give an update on the firefighting efforts Since the weather has cleared up, crews have been able to continue fighting from the air.
The fire’s Operations Section Chief said they’ve doubled the number of hand crews on the fire as of Monday morning.
The Lewis and Clark County Sheriffs Office was also able to escort about dozen or so residents to retrieve their belongings, including horses and vehicles.
Some at the meeting questioned why these fires weren’t put out sooner when they we’re smaller and more manageable.
“The most important thing to keep in mind is – on a national scale – we have 18,000 firefighters that are engaged primarily throughout the northwest that are fighting these fires. We sometimes can be really quick to say to ourselves ‘why don’t we get on these fires and get them out?’ Again, we only have so many resources we can put towards this effort,” Duane Buchi, the Alice Creek Public Information Officer, said.
UPDATE: 11:00 a.m.: New mapping estimates put the Alice Creek fire at 17,480 acres. That is an incres of 5,887 acres since Sunday.
Evacuations remain in place for the Landers Fork and Elk Trail subdivisions, as well as Alice Creek Basin and Tom’s Gulch.
A roadblock is in place at Copper Creek and Highway 200. Highway 200 remains open.
A fire reconnaissance flight is planned for Labor Day to get a better view of the fire and where it is growing.
HELENA-The Alice Creek Fire northeast of Lincoln grew by nearly 5,000 acres Sunday.
According to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest Facebook page, the Alice Creek Fire has consumed 16,400 acres. That estimate was taken before a passing cold front that pushed the fire to the west and south.
Overnight, winds pushed the fire down into Alice Creek, threatening the Lander’s Fork and Elk Trail subdivisions. The sheriff’s office ordered people in those two areas to evacuate around 12:30 a.m. Monday morning.
A shelter has been set up at the Wolf Creek Elementary School at 150 Walsh St. in Wolf Creek. The sheriff’s office says Valley Veterinary Hospital is taking in animals from evacuated areas.
The Lewis and Clark Co. Sheriff’s Office reopened Highway 200 at 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. People driving Highway 200 east of Lincoln are asked to watch out for fire equipment working in the area. Periods of low visibility are possible. Stopping along the side of the road is prohibited in the fire area.
A public meeting is planned for 6:00 p.m. Monday evening at the Augusta School at 410 Broadway in Augusta, MT.