Officials began evacuating roughly 100 homes near a wildfire in Helena's North Hills Friday night. 

According to the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office, the evacuation area includes Noble Lane, Snowdrift Road, Big Build Drive down to 6445, West Haven Road, Mountain Meadow Road, Timber Trail beginning at 6425 and north, Countryside Road, Black Sandy Loop and Churchill Lane. 

The evacuations will remain in place until further notice. An emergency shelter is available at Helena First Assembly of God Church, 2210 Dodge Ave.

A public meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at Warren Elementary School, 2690 York Road. An information line is available by calling 406-447-1605.  

The fire started on BLM land Friday afternoon. By that evening, Sheriff Leo Dutton said mapping technology showed the fire had burned about 25-30 acres so far. 

Officials have had a hard time getting to the wildfire in trucks because of the difficult terrain, Dutton said. 

"It's not going to the grass where we could hit it hard," Dutton said. "It's staying in the trees and it's making it difficult to get firefighting vehicles in there."

Crews were using a bulldozer to dig fire line in the area, said John Huston, Helena Unit Manager for the Montana Department of Natural Resources.

Dutton said officials also deployed a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), a smaller air tanker and two helicopters, but they can't extinguish the fire without help from the ground crews. 

"It's in some very thick area," Dutton said. "... They're trying to dig hand line where they can, they're working with the helicopter."

Although the fire was officially considered zero percent contained Friday, Dutton said about 10-20% of the fire has been contained on the back side. 

Preparing for the hot and dry conditions forecast for Saturday was a top priority of firefighting crews. 

"It's going to take a few days at a minimum to stop the fire," Huston said.

Dutton said the cause of the fire has not been determined, but officials suspect it was human-caused. 

"It's suspicious in nature of how it started," he said. "The BLM ranger is following up on some leads that we have, who may have started it."

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