CLARKSTON – A wildfire in Clarkston has destroyed numerous structures and scorched around 2,000 acres since igniting earlier this week.
The fire started Monday afternoon but already by Tuesday efforts had switched to monitoring hot spots and protecting structures with much of that work being done from the sky.
Even with 335 gallons of river water being dropped from the sky every few minutes the Horseshoe fire continues its path of destruction.
“Last night gave us a scare and we realized how quickly it can happen something really really devastating,” said Clarkston resident Victoria Young who told MTN News that while their home is fine, she know of others who have not been so lucky.
“Obviously weather is a big factor in that today we’re hoping it’s gonna cooperate with us keep the repertoire down just a little bit,” explained Gallatin County Fire Warden Brian Nicholay.
“It is rural but it is a residential area uh so they’re definitely hitting hot spots,” added Jake Wagner with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office.
Heavy machines have been brought in to help fight the flames but dry conditions and steep terrain requires ground crews to rely heavily on the aerial support which consists of two helicopters and numerous fixed wing planes.
The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation has taken command of the Horseshoe fire burning north of Three Forks. Firefighters say they have stopped the forward progress and add that no more homes have been lost to the blaze.
Area residents have been showing their thanks to the crews who are battling the Horseshoe fire, “someone was saying firefighters needed coffee, and so we are thinking it was a way we could get back and help a little bit,” Young said.
Help is being given as easily as it’s being received and as long as the blaze continues so will the support of both those impacted by the fie and those who are working to contain the flames.
Several homes and other buildings were lost Monday night, but a count of how many has not been released.
Firefighters say the rugged terrain east of the Missouri River and the long hauls for water tenders and helicopters makes fighting the fire difficult. The area is also full of fast burning juniper and brush which makes it difficult to get ahead of the fast-moving flames.
So far, no evacuations have been ordered.
-Mallory Peebles reporting for MTN News