Townsend, MT – A five-member Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) helicopter crew was rescued by a Montana trooper after their chopper crashed in front of her while they were fighting a wildland fire on Tuesday evening.
The helicopter was coming in for a landing when a surge of high winds caused it to crash and flip onto its side, sparking another fire, Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Amanda Villa told KPVI.
Trooper Villa ran to the smoking wreckage and pulled the five crew members to safety with the help of a Good Samaritan and an unidentified Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputy, KPVI reported.
The downed helicopter burst into flames moments later.
“I’m just glad that me and the deputy were right there when it happened and able to get everybody out quickly,” Trooper Villa told KPVI. “All things considered, it was a lot better than it could have been.”
The crew members were transported to St. Peter’s Health in Helena and the Billings Clinic Broadwater in Townsend for assessments.
Trooper Villa, a veteran of the Army Reserves, was featured by the MHP in March for Women’s History Month.
“I always wanted a career where I could help others, serve my community, and make a difference,” she said at the time.
She joined the MHP seven years ago.
The Deep Creek Canyon Fire had burned more than 4,640 acres as of Friday morning, according to InciWeb data.
#DeepCreekFire update: We are in unified command with Montana DNRC and a Type 1 team has been ordered. Highway 12 is closed east of Townsend. Please avoid the Deep Creek Canyon area. pic.twitter.com/AQ0OHcw9kg
— Helena-Lewis&ClarkNF (@LewisandClarkNF) June 15, 2021
I’m monitoring the situation involving a DNRC helicopter on the Deep Creek Fire. I’m relieved to hear that all involved are getting the necessary medical attention.
Please join me for praying for them and our first responders across the state.
— Governor Greg Gianforte (@GovGianforte) June 16, 2021
The inferno was ignited on the afternoon of June 13, possibly after a falling tree landed on a powerline.
Approximately 60 homes were evacuated in the Grassy Mountain subdivision in Meagher County, and another 130 residents were evacuated from the Springdale Hutterite Colony on Tuesday, KPVI reported.
Update will be live-streamed on our Facebook page at 8 pm this evening. Visit: https://t.co/wGG0qaKEYL to learn more.
6/15/2021: Active fire behavior due to the sustained Red Flag Warning weather conditions yesterday. pic.twitter.com/VxUTYhLvO3
— Helena-Lewis&ClarkNF (@LewisandClarkNF) June 16, 2021
A closure order is now in effect for the #DeepCreekFire. Visit: https://t.co/oNqHrDJZqt to view the map and order. Order #01-15-11-21-12 will be in effect until July 15, unless rescinded earlier. pic.twitter.com/SzDFYHwZZ6
— Helena-Lewis&ClarkNF (@LewisandClarkNF) June 18, 2021
It is unclear how many structures have been destroyed by the blaze thus far.