Posted: Aug 30, 2012 2:14 PM by Jamie Leary
Updated: Aug 30, 2012 6:59 PM
UPDATE: 8/30/12 2:06 P.M.: New Photos added (WARNING: GRAPHIC)
WHITEHALL - Over 100 people turned up at the Whitehall community center Thursday morning to hear the latest information from fire bosses on the 19 Mile Fire. Officials say they will be holding community meetings everyday at 6 p.m. until no one shows up.
Currently fire is estimated at over 3,000 acres. Mapping has not yet been done Thursday due to smoke and low visibility.
Dozens of firefighters worked through the night protecting structures as the fire moved aggressively to the east. Managers said their main objective Thursday was to get the blaze under control so it doesn't move further east towards Interstate 90. The flames have moved out of heavy timber and into grass. Officials say it is possible the fire could spread very quickly to I-90.
The Burea of Land Management is strongly advising people to reconsider holiday plans in case the fire reaches the highway near the Pipestone area. Fire officials are asking the public to avoid using Highway 2 between Butte and Whitehall for the safety of firefighters and evacuees. Fire officials said, "Recreationists expecting to ride in the Pipestone OHV area north of I-90 over Labor Day weekend are asked to make alternative plans in case of a closure due to fire activity."
A shelter for evacuees has been set up by the Red Cross at St. Teresa of Avila Parrish. The Catholic church is located 107 E. 2nd Street in Whitehall. Anyone needing more information can call 287-9213.
Evacuees that have a need to return to their property for a short time are asked to make escort arrangements through a public information officer who will be at the Whitehall Ambulance Barn on Thursday. Law enforcement escorts will only be available from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. depending on fire activity.