GREAT FALLS — (UPDATE, MONDAY MORNING) The snow and rain have largely extinguished much of the fire. There are no residents at the evacuation facility. We have a reporter in Browning working to get more information about the situation.
(SUNDAY, 10 pm) The wildland fire that sparked early Sunday east of Browning has now burned more than 25,000 acres, and destroyed at least one structure. There have been no injuries reported.
The fire started about a mile east of Blackfeet Community College, and powerful winds fueled the fire's spread northeast toward the community of Blackfoot; authorities ordered residents of the Blackfoot area to evacuate. An emergency shelter has been set up at Browning Middle School.
The roaring winds produced gusts of more than 80 miles per hour in Glacier County throughout the day.
Blackfeet Incident Command said on Sunday evening that the fire has moved eastward and is continuing to burn in the farm land north of Meriwether.
Tribal officials have declared a formal emergency: "Due to the Grass Fire & High Winds, I, Timothy F. Davis, Chairman of the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council, by virtue of the authority granted to me in Resolution 309-2009, hereby declare an emergency on the Blackfeet Reservation effectively immediately."
(SUNDAY, 3:14 pm) Blackfeet Tribe public information officer James McNeely says the fire is just west of the community of Blackfoot (several miles northeast of Browning), and all residents of that area need to evacuate. If you need a place to go, the middle school gym will be open. Emergency crews from several agencies - Blackfeet Fire Management, Chief Mountain Hot Shots, DES, BIA, BLES, and EMS - are working to get the fire contained. If you need assistance call Blackfeet Law Enforcement at 338-4000.
(1st REPORT, SUNDAY, 11:26 a.m.) There is a large wildland fire burning on the east side of Browning; the fire sparked early Sunday. Glacier Country Disaster & Emergency Preparedness said in a Facebook post that that the fire started east of Town Pump, and that "all fire departments" have responded.
Browning resident Gwen Kicking Woman said that it is about a mile east of Blackfeet Community College, and that emergency crews rescued several horses that were in danger. Powerful winds are fueling the fire and hampering the efforts of firefighters.
At this point, there are no reports of injuries, and no reports that the fire is directly threatening any buildings or structure. The cause of the fire is not yet known; we will update you if we get more information.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the region, meaning that critical fire weather conditions are in effect, with strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures that contribute to extreme fire behavior.