Posted: Jul 2, 2012 7:35 AM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
Updated: Jul 2, 2012 7:57 AM
BROADUS - The Montana Red Cross is gearing up to help additional evacuees as the massive Ash Creek Fire continues to spread east in the hot, windy weather.
The lightning-caused fire that's been burning since last week became the largest uncontained fire in the U.S., having burned an estimated 170,000 acres. The blaze was 40% contained by late Sunday night but continued to spread to the east.
The fire in the Beaver Creek area crossed the containment lines that firefighters worked on during last night's shift and continued toward Little Pumpkin Creek. Evacuations have been ordered for the Stacey, Marvell, Little Pumpkin, East Fork of Otter, Wilbur, Whitetail and Beaver Creek areas.
The pre-evacuation alerts close to Busby and Broadus prompted the Red Cross to open additional shelter at Ashland Public School. That makes six shelters that have been opened because of the fires in Eastern Montana.
Trained Red Cross volunteers and staff are staffing shelters and helping connect evacuated residents with a range of basic needs including shelter, food, hygiene supplies, recovery information, health and emotional support.
"The support Montanans are giving each other across the state is incredible to witness," said Diane Wright, Red Cross spokesperson. "People are opening their hearts and their wallets to help their neighbors in need. We are receiving calls daily from people asking how they can help. Financial donations are critical right now as we are gearing up to provide additional shelters."
And the community is pitching in to help.
Chris Thomas, "the morning guy" at KBLL-FM braved the heat yesterday to raise over $2,500 during a 7-hour live radio remote. Wal-Mart and Costco have donated several pallets of water and Gatorade. Red Cross had a critical need for water and Gatorade late Sunday night.
PPL Montana, headquartered in Billings, donated food and $1,000, Cloud Peak Energy with operations in Decker, MT and Central Montana Resources with offices in Billings, Lewistown, Miles City and Roundup each donated $5,000 to the Red Cross.
Donors can help people affected by these wildfires as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross. A gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.
To make a credit card contribution, call 1.800.272.6668. Donations by check should be made payable to "American Red Cross of Montana" and sent to the American Red Cross of Montana at 1300 28th Street South, Great Falls, MT 59405. Those wishing to donate online should visit www.montanaredcross.org.
If you have items like clothing or furniture to donate, consider instead donating your goods to a charity thrift store that is equipped to clean and store the items; often, the Red Cross works with charity partners in the community to connect disaster-affected residents with these resources. Although your generosity is appreciated, Red Cross is asking everyone to not bring unsolicited goods to shelters.