MDT mobilizes quickly to help the residents of Denton; Wolf Creek bridge disappears
On December 1, a fast-moving wildland fire devastated the town of Denton. The fire destroyed at least 25 homes, 6 commercial structures, and over 10,000 acres in Denton, along with a bridge owned and maintained by the Montana Department of Transportation. The loss of the bridge effectively cut off western access to the town on MT 81.
Image from 511mt.net 12/10/2021 showing road closure west of Denton
Photo credit: Tim Welter. Smoldering Wolf Creek bridge in foreground; lone remaining of what was three grain elevators in background
MDT staff immediately hired Wickens Construction, who mobilized and began work on building a detour, while the MDT Bridge Bureau began planning the replacement of the Wolf Creek bridge. These two efforts were aimed at getting MT 81 open as soon as possible. This occurred by the afternoon of December 10th.
Meanwhile, Wickens Construction quickly constructed and opened a single-lane for emergency equipment. MDT Lewistown Division maintenance crews have also cleaned up and properly disposed of pieces of bridge and nearby railroad trestle debris left behind by the fire.
Photo credit: Kyle Dubbs, 12/08/21. The cleaned-up bridge and roadway at left; the new detour under construction at right
Photo credit: Kyle Dubbs, 12/8/2021. The detour under construction
Photo credit: Kyle Dubbs, 12/10/2021. The completed detour with signage and remaining grain elevator and silos.
Photo credit: Kyle Dubbs, 12/10/2021. The completed detour looking West of Denton
For additional information about the fire:
Great Falls Tribune article: