HELENA (AP) — The Lewis and Clark County sheriff's office is evacuating residences along Stemple Pass Road after high winds caused a prescribed burn in the Helena National Forest to be declared a wildfire.

Forest spokeswoman Kathy Bushnell says the wind kicked up at about 1 p.m. Thursday, driving the fire on Stemple Pass beyond the boundaries of the prescribed burn. Stemple Pass is northwest of Helena and a column of smoke could be seen from Helena.

The Lewis and Clark County sheriff's office was evacuating residences from the top of the Continental Divide down to the Lincoln Highway.

The prescribed burn was started Wednesday and the fire was moving north Thursday afternoon, pushed by 30- to 35 mph winds.

The National Weather Service had issued a fire weather watch on Tuesday afternoon and upgraded it to a red flag warning on Wednesday afternoon.

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