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Clancy VFD Teams with Other County Units on Corral Fire

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Corral Fire - June 26, 2012

Members of the Clancy Volunteer Fire Department teamed up with several other Jefferson County fire units to assist Lewis & Clark County authorities in stopping the 1800 acre wildfire in the Scratchgravel Hills in Helena.

Clancy VFD initially sent four firefighters and a brush truck to the incident on Tuesday, June 26, when winds and temperatures caused the ‘Corral Fire’ to spread and threaten homes. Caravanning with members of Montana City VFD to the fire scene, Clancy firemen first assisted Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton and Montana City Fire Chief Rick Abraham in an attempt to evacuate a family that had declined to leave the fire area. Clancy’s brush truck was the only available vehicle small enough to cross the small bridge across the irrigation canal to the home where five family members remained despite the ominous approach of smoke and flames. Once it was determined the family would not require transport, Clancy's team was shifted to structure protection. Working with firefighters from several regional departments, a heroic stand was made as the fire moved quickly down the mountainside and approached homes along Green Meadow Drive and Wagon Wheel Road. The firemen held the fire back at the irrigation canal and prevented it from damaging homes along the waterway.

A team of four helicopters (two DNRC fire choppers and two National Guard Blackhawk’s) repeatedly swooped and drew water from the canal and fought the fire from the top of the hills. Clancy and other firefighting teams battled hot spots and continued to keep embers from spreading into yards and vehicles and igniting new fires.

Clancy's firefighters then spent several hours combing the burn area around Norris Road and John G Mine Roads – the heart of the fire where four homes were lost to the flames, knocking down small fires caused by burning fence posts, downed trees and brush, and rocks that retained heat. Working with water crews from Boulder, Montana City and York VFD’s, Clancy's team spent over four hours on mop-up operations, ensuring sparks and embers did not start new fires. A second team from Clancy arrived later in the evening to relieve the initial crew on scene and continued mop-up. Late in the afternoon, a fortunate wind shift caused the main fire to turn and begin burning back onto itself, allowing fire crews to gain an upper hand and divert the main fire away from residential areas.

Jefferson City volunteers helped in the efforts, operating a water tender to assist crews. County fire departments were resource-strained for the effort, having already supplied equipment and crews to the firefighting efforts in Whitehall and Three Forks, as well as handling local incidents.