Posted: Jan 5, 2012 7:41 AM by Shannon Newth (KRTV Great Falls)
Updated: Jan 5, 2012 1:37 PM
BROWNING- Two fires have burned at least 45,000 acres near Browning.
Highway 2 from Browning to Cut Bank was shut down due to the fires on Wednesday night, but Wayne Smith, Blackfeet Communications Director, tells us the road is now reopen.
Smith also says school is scheduled as normal for Thursday in Browning.
The fire near Cut Bank Creek northeast of Browning is being called the Boy Fire. According to DES coordinator Robert DesRosier, the Boy Fire has burned 15,000 acres and destroyed four structures including one home.
The Boy Fire started at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday on Duck Lake Road, and then spread east toward Boarding School housing area, threatening the Seville and Hidden Lake colonies. DesRosier says more than 200 people were evacuated from the colonies and school.
The second blaze, known as the Y Fire, started near the "y" intersection of Montana Highway 89 and U.S. Highway 2 south of Browning Wednesday evening. DesRosier says 75 fire personnel continue to battle the fire Thursday morning. Fueled by wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour, DesRosier says the Y Fire has burned 30,000 to 40,000 acres. He says the fire burned into what he describes as a "wet area" around 12:30 Thursday morning, causing the fire to die down slightly.
The Y Fire has destroyed 10 to 12 structures, including four homes.
Thankfully, no injuries or fatalities have been reported.
Smith tells us the Red Cross arrived around 3 a.m. Thursday to assist with donations and relief items. And as of 5 o'clock Thursday morning, Smith says a few families displaced by the fires remain at the Eagle Shield Center in Browning.
Both fires are still active at this hour. The cause of the fires is not yet known, but powerful winds are making conditions extremely hazardous.
Montana isn't the only area being hit by unusual winter fires. Several fires broke out in souther Alberta Province on Wednesday destroying several sturctures. Read more from the CBC.