Harris Mountain, Balsinger fires continue to grow, town meeting planned in Cascade on July 27

Updated: 2:25 p.m. July 26

The Harris Mountain Fire is now 11,890 acres and burning about 10 miles southeast of Cascade with 159 personnel assigned.

At 5:45 p.m., the Cascade County Disaster and Emergency Services office said that the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office had issued a mandatory evacuation for all residents on Adel Road and Whitmore.

“You are in imminent danger of the fire. Grab your essential items and house pets and leave immediately. First responders will not come rescue you. Please take this warning seriously, leave immediately and don’t risk your life,” according to CCSO.

At 2 p.m. July 26, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents on Sheep Creek Road. Residents on Novak Creek Lane were issued a pre-evacuation warning, according to CCSO and InciWeb.

The fire was started by lightning on July 23 and burned more than 3,000 acres within the first burn period, according to InciWeb.

Northern Rockies Team 7, a Type II Incident Management Team, assumed command of the fire from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation at 6 a.m. July 26.

Divide Complex, Harris Mountain fires grow

A town meeting is planned in Cascade at Wedsworth Hall at 10 a.m. July 27 with the incident management team.

“The fire is located in difficult and rugged terrain with fuels and topography driving fire activity. Location, along with limited resources creates challenges for immediate suppression. Multiple crews, engines, dozers, water tenders and air resources are assigned to the fire and providing point protection near structures,” according to InciWeb.

Two fires in Cascade County; CCSO issuing evacuation orders

The Montana Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Cascade School, 321 Central Ave. W., for residents displaced by the Harris Mountain Fire. Residents who check in there will have access to services including a safe place to stay, meals and other community resources. All Red Cross services are free. Families can also request Red Cross Services by calling 800-272-6668.

The Cascade County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders and notices for homes near Adel Road and Sheep Creek Road over the weekend. Residents are asked to avoid the area as much as possible to allow fire response efforts to travel unheeded into the area.

The Balsinger Fire continues to grow and under sustained red flag conditions, it increased by almost 500 acres on July 25, pushing east toward Neihart, according to InciWeb. The fire also pushed north making several runs up Thunder Mountain.

“Today firefighters will focus on protecting the communities of Belt Park, Deer Creek Estates, Monarch, Neihart and the Hwy. 89 corridor to avoid loss or damage to private property / lands and critical infrastructure,” according to InciWeb.

Competition for scarce resources nationally remains high. The DivideComplex has 222 personnel including crews, aircraft, engines, dozers and water tenders assigned, according to InciWeb.