ELMO, Mont. - What began as a 200 acre fire on the evening of Friday, July 29 in the Deep Draw area along MT-28 quickly grew, prompting evacuation warnings only hours later and spreading to 7,000 acres by Saturday afternoon.

Designated as the Elmo 2 fire, it is currently estimated to span just over 16,000 acres and is 16% contained. The cause remains under investigation.

Sara Rouse, Elmo Fire information officer, told Montana Right Now multiple structures are burned—authorities are working to identify the number and type of structures damaged.

In an update from Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire (CSKT) on Tuesday, they said the fire perimeter had expanded to the north and east, including Black Lake, Red Lake, the vicinity of Black Lake Rd and Dayton Creek Rd, and approaching US-93 at Chief Cliff Lane.

The fire is contained along the south boundary along MT-28.

Evacuations

Lake County Sheriff says mandatory evacuations are in place for all residents north and south of S-352 on the Lake Mary Ronan Corridor, including:

  • Lake Mary Ronan Road;
  • Black Lake Road;
  • Around Lake Mary Ronan;
  • and the surrounding areas

Pre-evacuation warnings are in effect for are still in effect east and south of US-93 between intersections with MT-28 and Lake Mary Ronan Road.

Red Cross evacuation centers have been established at Somers Middle School and Polson High School. For more information, call 1-800-272-6888, then select Option 1 for the Duty Officer

Area Closures

Lake Mary Ronan Road is closed to through traffic. Residents north of Lake Mary Ronan Road can access their residences. 

The boat ramp at the Elmo Fishing Access Site is also closed.

Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 7 is working with the Montana Department of Transportation to implement pilot cars on US-93 between Elmo and Rollins due to poor visibility. Highway may be narrowed to a single lane with reduced speeds. There is no parking for fire viewing allowed. 

Motorists are urged to check 511 for most recent road access updates.

Power Outages

At the request of Lake County Emergency Management, Mission Valley Power shut off power to the following areas through Tuesday:

  • Black Lake Road
  • Proctor Club House
  • Hog Heaven

The situation will be reassessed Wednesday morning to determine whether it is safe to restore power.

Outlook

Plenty of dry fuel and wind has turned the fire from a small grass fire into a blazing wildfire. Currently, 300 personnel are fighting to contain it, including scooper planes, heavy equipment operators, water tenders, and more. 

Over the course of Tuesday, firefighters on the eastern side planned to continue to focus on structure protection, reinforcing, and constructing line. Air resources were planned to continue to aid firefighters on the ground with water and retardant drops.

A red flag warning has been in effect for the region, with the dry heat and wind through Tuesday prime for fire growth. Aggressive spread is anticipated in areas of exposed timber fuels on slopes, and tree torching and upslope crown runs are also expected.

A meeting was held to update the public, and a second is scheduled at the Elmo Powwow grounds on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at 7 p.m.

There are at least six active fires with more 100 acres burning in the state on Monday, according to the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation fire dashboard.

More than 100 fires were reported last week in the state for a total of 946 this year, according to the MTDNRC on Monday.

For information on restrictions and closures of FWP sites, visit https://fwp.mt.gov/news/current-closures-restrictions.

For current information on wildfires in Montana, visit https://www.mtfireinfo.org.

Originally published on kulr8.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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