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Scratchgravel fire

Smoke rises from a fire in the Scratchgravel Hills outside Helena, as seen from Ryanns Lane.

HELENA -- Fire crews from throughout the Helena area are responding to a quick-moving wildland fire off Franklin Mine Road in the Scratchgravel Hills area.

At 4:20 p.m., authorities began evacuations in the Tumbleweed and Treasure Canyon area. The flames are moving northeast. At 6 p.m., evacuations continued and structures were threatened.

At least 30 homes and 200 people have been evacuated. Paul Spengler, county disaster coordinator, said a shelter will be set up at First Assembly of God on Dodge Avenue.

Many streets have been closed to non-emergency traffic and non-residents. Green Meadow, which was congested with spectators, is closed to through traffic.

Evacuations include Norris Road, Head Lane, John G. Mine and Copper Road. Residents are being allowed to enter homes to save pets and gather medications.

People who do not live in the fire zone are urged to stay away from the area.

The fire started about 4 p.m.

Two helicopters have been launched to fight the fire. State Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and U.S. Forest Service crews are responding alongside volunteer crews.

The region is currently under a red-flag warning, indicating high fire danger due to heat and wind.

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