Posted: Jun 25, 2012 9:49 PM by Meteorologist Adam Bell
Updated: Jun 26, 2012 8:14 AM
A number of fires in the region have grown substantially due to critical fire weather today.
The Pony Fire has grown nearly five times what it was this morning at an estimated 2,500 acres. An estimated 80 personnel are working on the blaze. Crews were pulled from the fire earlier today due to the dangerous weather conditions.
The Antelope Fire didn't grow as much, but has reached an estimated 682 acres in size. The fire north of Whitehall has about 70 firefighters working on the blaze.
Officials tell our news team that they plan to combine the Antelope and the Pony fires into one complex. While the two fires won't merge, in terms of managing the fires, by making the two fires a complex, this will allow for additional resources, including a Type II management team. Currently we have a Type III, or local firefighters, managing the fire. It is anticipated to shifting into a Type II team, including national resources to battle these two fires.
The Bear Trap fire, just south of the Pony Fire currently has consumed an estimated 100 to 200 acres. It is 0% contained. Officials tell us to expect temporary road closures in and around the blaze.
A fire outside of Helena has trigged evacuations. In the Scratch Gravel Hills areas northwest of Helena a fast-moving Corral wildlfire has prompted people to leave their homes. Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says more than 200 homes have been evacuated as of 6:15 Monday night. The Red Cross has opened a shelter for evacuees.
On the weather front, the winds will begin to subside tonight, along with increasing relative humidity, should aid firefighters in the battle overnight. Red Flag Warnings that were issued earlier today have been since lifted, however several locations will be under Red Flag Warnings tomorrow due to high winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. At this time, critical fire weather may repeat tomorrow, so please be safe out there.