Governor Greg Gianforte is expressing his appreciation for firefighters who worked all day Wednesday to save lives and property after an early morning fire in the Gibson Flats area just southeast of Great Falls.
On Wednesday evening, the governor toured the damage, joined Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter and two firefighters.
Earlier in the day, Great Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jeremy Jones said that 11 homes, 11 garages, seven outbuildings, and several cars were destroyed by the fire.
The fire started in a field around at 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday; the cause of the fire was still being investigated.
One chicken died in the fire, but there have been no other deaths or injuries.
Jones said it would likely be "a while" before residents in Gibson Flats would be able to return to their homes.
Gianforte said, "They did a herculean job here at the Gibson Flats fire. We thought fire season was over. It's been a long season. We did lose eleven residences, but it could've been so much worse.”
He also posted on Facebook: "The resilience of Montanans shone bright today. My prayers are with all Montanans suddenly displaced from their homes today due to fire, and my greatest thanks goes to all firefighters, first responders, and volunteers who courageously responded."
Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter encouraged people to report downed power lines: “It’s okay to call 911. Don’t assume that we know that power line is down. As things change, we may have missed it and it’s a safety concern for everyone that’s out there working, too.”
If you were affected by the fire and need assistance, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-272-6668.
Great Falls Fire Rescue said that the fire burned an estimated 120 acres.
We will update you as we get more information.