GREAT FALLS — The Harris Mountain Fire (Inciweb) has burned an estimated 25,321 acres as Thursday morning (July 28). There is no containment at this point.
The fire was sparked by lightning on Friday, July 23, and is about seven miles south/southeast of the town of Cascade. As of Wednesday, there have been no reported injuries or damaged structures.
No new evacuation notices or orders have been issued. A community meeting will be held on Thursday, July 29, at 10 a.m. at Wedsworth Hall 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.
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 7 commander John Thompson said in a news release that Wednesday brought another day of moderate fire activity with growth across the fire area. Extensive aircraft support occurred on the northwest and southeast edges of the fire to slow the spread as firefighters on the ground worked on point protection and fireline near structures. Several aircraft worked the fire edge with bucket drops putting in over 20 hours of combined flight time.
Firefighters worked to secure previously completed fireline on the northern edge of the fire by improving line and extinguishing areas of heat. Crews on the east edge of the fire worked to secure the fire edge utilizing aircraft in the West Fork of Hound Creek and Too-nah-hin Creek. Sprinklers were installed and running near structures in the South Fork of Sheep Creek. Crews maintained those systems while monitoring the fire spread towards Novak Creek. Portions of the fire continued to be staffed with crews late into the evening and early morning to provide extended coverage for point source protection near structures.
Active fire in timbered drainages is expected again on Thursday, consisting mainly of backing fire with short crown runs. Firefighters along with heavy equipment will continue to construct fireline along the southeastern edge of the fire around Jones Hills working their way to the west. Crews tasked with point protection continue to extinguish any areas of heat near structures further securing the fire edge.
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.