Wires down

Downed power lines in Great Falls, Montana.

Wildfires mixed with stormy weather are taking a toll on power lines across the state. We've been tracking outage reports since early this morning.

Strong winds and scattered storms have caused widespread blackouts in Montana. Brandy Powers, a representative with NorthWestern Energy, says they're aware of the issues and are working around the clock to turn the lights back on.

"Know that we're working as hard and as quickly as possible to get those outages restored. We have crews that are coming in from all over to help out and we just really encourage customers: if you have a downed line, stay away from it. Keep others away. Treat anything that you see down and on the ground as live. Call us right away. You can also report an outage online."

She explains why the wild weather this time of the year targets power lines.

"Due to the inclement weather that's moving across the state from Hamilton to Roundup, you're seeing the storm pattern kind of move across and we've got wind, we've got rain, we've got leaves still on branches. Any of that heavy wet moisture during this time of the year always makes outages hard." 

Maps from NorthWestern Energy show Great Falls, Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, Ravalli and Yellowstone counties hit the hardest on Monday.

The green alerts show areas where up to 400 people are in the dark while the purple patches indicate up to 50 outages in an area. Gallatin County is included, where electric crews are closely monitoring the Bridger-Foothills fire.

"We've been allowed into some of those areas, we're working very closely with Fire Command keeping crews safe as they work to restore power to those customers. We're trying to keep people in service as quickly as we can."

So far the Hi-line, Havre, and areas in northeastern Montana like Miles City are in the clear.

Powers says they're regularly updating the outage map and will continue making regular announcements on their Facebook page