By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
UPDATED SEPT. 5 10:50 P.M.
BOZEMAN – In response to the Bridger Foothills Fire the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office announced that they are evacuating residents who live within the Bridger and Kelly Canyon areas as well as those near Jackson Creek as the fire rages on. Residents who live in the Brackett Creek area are encouraged to voluntarily evacuate, though it is not yet mandatory and individuals who live along Skunk Creek Road were notified of a possible evacuation announcement to come.
As of 9:45 p.m. the fire is estimated to cover 11,000 acres and remains 0 percent contained. 120 first responders are working to slow the spread, while the cause is still unknown.
Per the sheriff’s office the Bridger Foothills Fire has crossed Bridger Canyon Road and buildings have been lost due to the blaze. The sheriff’s office alerted area residents to the possibility of an evacuation as early as the evening of Sept. 4.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter at Christ the King Lutheran Church for individuals that are asked to leave their homes.
Portions of Highway 86 remain closed to any travelers other than residents. The closure encompasses the intersection of Story Mill Road and Bridger Canyon Road all the way to the Bridger Canyon Road intersection with Sedan Road.
“All of the Bridger’s roads and trails and all of the Bangtail’s roads and trails are closed effective immediately on National Forest system lands,” said Bridger Foothills Fire public information officer Mariah Leuschen-Lonergan.
Additionally, a Federal Management Assistance Grant, funded by FEMA, has been allocated to help with the expenses that accompany combatting the fire. Gov. Steve Bullock recently announced the funding in a press release.
“Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) submitted the request for firefighting assistance for the Bridger Foothills Fire. The FMAG makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs,” the press release states. “Eligible costs include materials and supplies, mobilization and demobilization, equipment use, and expenses for field camps. Additionally, each FMAG is eligible for over $450,000 in federal mitigation funding.”
One type one handcrew has been ordered to assist with the fire and is currently on their way to the scene.
“It’s pretty rapidly moving, rapidly evolving,” Leuschen-Lonergan said of the Bridger Foothills Fire.
This is a developing story. EBS will provide updates as information becomes available.