Red Cross Opens Emergency Shelter for Wildfire Evacuees

Four Montana Red Cross shelters are available for community members in Kalispell, Ronan, Arlee and Missoula

By Micah Drew
An American Red Cross vehicle set up outside of an emergency shelter in 2021. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The American Red Cross of Montana is operating four emergency shelters across northwest Montana for residents affected by wildfire. A shelter in Kalispell is currently open, while those in Ronan, Arlee and Missoula are on standby, and will reopen for community members displaced by evacuation warnings, orders or property losses if needed.

Each Red Cross shelter is staffed with volunteers and provides a safe place to stay, as well as meals and access to community resources at no cost.

In Kalispell, the emergency shelter is located at Canvas Church at 255 Summit Ridge Drive. If volunteers are not readily available, residents can call (406) 215-1514 and ask for assistance. The shelter’s continued operation will be assessed on a day-by-day basis as county officials monitor fire activity and the number of affected residents, according to Juanita Nelson, Flathead County’s emergency management planner.

Nelson said that approximately 19 homes were under either mandatory or pre-evacuation orders from the Niarada Fire burning west of Elmo as of Monday morning. Historically, emergency shelters set up in Flathead County are rarely used, with just one known usage since 2009, according to Nelson. Many people rely on friends and family, or go to local hotels which often offer discounted rates during emergencies.

In Ronan, the emergency shelter is set up at Ronan High School at 1130 3rd Ave. N.W. Arlee’s shelter is housed in the Arlee Community Center at 34806 Pow Wow Road. Those in the Missoula area can go to Cold Springs School at 625 Briggs Street.

Those who plan to use the emergency shelter should take any necessary medications, cell phone chargers, toiletries, flashlights, bedding, and anything else they need in order to be comfortable. More information can be found on the Montana Red Cross Facebook page.