Billings Fire Fighters

BILLINGS, Mont. - A blockage of a tunnel entrance that goes underneath the Billings Rims caused flooding Sunday.

Lt. Brandon Woolie, the Public Information Officer with the Billings Police Department gave a timeline of what happened in a press conference Sunday.

According to Lt. Woolie, at 6:00 am the Billings Bench Water Association noticed high water in the canal.

At 6:30 am the flow of water into the canal was ordered to be shut down and the Canyon Creek Diversion gates were opened to reduce the flow of water.

The 9-1-1 call to report the high water came in at 7:06 am from Jim Stott with the Billings Bench Water Association.

Lt. Woolie says at 7:23 am the Billings Bench Water Association advised of a blockage in the tunnel above the north 15th entrance under the Rims.

The Billings City Communications Center reportedly began receiving reports from residents in the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Burnstead Drive around 7:15 am about canal water flooding apartments and the roadway.

The Billings Fire Department and local emergency responders responded to the incident.

An excavator was brought in to remove the blockage and at 8:30 am it was removed, releasing the flow of water.

At 8:43 am the excavator was driven back to the 1900 and 2000 blocks of Burnstead Drive where it was helping to support eroded soil caused by the overflow, however, the soil and the excavator collapsed. The operator of the excavator got out uninjured.

An evacuation was put in place for residents in the area and a shelter was activated.

At this time there have been no reported injuries.

There has been damage to property, however, an assessment is ongoing to find out the extent of the damages.

Water in the canal is dropping and as water levels drop to safe levels, those affected by the evacuation can return home and assess for damages Lt. Woolie said. At this time it is expected that residents should be able to return home around 6:00 pm.

What was blocking the flow of the water has not been reported at this time.

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