HELENA, Mont. — An aggressive aerial assault saved numerous homes and held a lightning-caused fire south of Helena to just 76 acres.

Montana City Fire Chief Rick Abraham says firefighters were aided Thursday by helicopters, two small air tankers and a converted DC-10 supertanker that has been stationed less than 5 miles away at Helena Regional Airport for the last four weeks to aid with regional firefighting efforts.

The supertanker can hold up to 11,000 gallons of retardant, about four times the capacity of the average propeller-driven tanker.

The Holmes Gulch Fire was reported at around 2 p.m. Thursday. Soon, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office ordered the evacuation of around 40 homes.

Residents were expected to be kept out of their homes again Friday while crews worked to mop up the fire that burned in grass and heavy timber.

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