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Montana Wildfire Update For July 23, 2021

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Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies are issuing pre-evacuation warnings for residents on the East Side Road and the Killbrennan Lake Road in response to the South Yaak Fire burning 4 miles northwest of Troy. Pre-evacuation warnings mean residents should be ready to evacuate if necessary. The South Yaak fire was burning more than 320 acres as of Friday afternoon.

The Sanders County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation warning due to the 2,000-acre Thorne Creek Fire burning 5 miles northeast of Thompson Falls.

The warnings are in effect for the “Graves North” and “Graves South” areas near Thompson Falls, described as “from Cougar Creek south to the intersection of Blue Slide Road and the railroad tracks.” Deputies will be gathering pre-evacuation information from residents as they work through the area door-to-door today. Residents in these areas should be prepared to evacuate if conditions warrant.

The Missoula County Sheriff’s office has cancelled its evacuation warning issued Thursday for Seeley Lake residences living along a section of Highway 83. The warning was called off Thursday evening after deputies and state firefighters responded and controlled the fire, which engulfed multiple structures.

Residents from north of Castle Town to Yankee Jim have returned to their homes after being evacuated from the Corral Fire on Thursday, says Meagher County Sheriff John Lopp. Lopp says firefighters quickly contained the 20-acre fire, which started on Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest land in the southeast Castle Mountains. Large and very large air tankers responded to the blaze Thursday.

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The Hay Creek Fire puts up a column of smoke in this photo from Huckleberry Lookout

A community meeting will be held Saturday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Sondreson Community Hall parking lot for an update on the Hay Creek Fire burning five miles west of Polebridge. The Flathead County Sheriff’s department gave pre-evacuation notices to 20 structures in the area Wednesday evening. Stage-2 fire restrictions go into effect in the Flathead on Monday.

The Bureau of Land Management says five firefighters were injured Thursday afternoon while battling a lightning-caused fire in central Montana, south of Fort Peck Reservoir. The firefighters were members of federal crews that joined other agencies on the 650-acre Devils Creek Fire.

BLM spokesman Mark Jacobsen says the crews were building a defensive line around the fire, 36 miles northwest of Jordan in Garfield County, when a storm cell passed over the area. Winds soon swirled through the rough, steep terrain.

“They were putting down a fire line and there was a pocket of unburned fuel in proximity, and the fire swirled and that fuel combusted and then they received the brunt of the effects of that”

Jacobsen says the speed of the wind and flame directions emphasizes just how dangerous wildland firefighting can be.

“It’s, ah, pretty hazardous. And the fuel and the weather and the conditions and temperatures and so on and so forth, they all have a vote in how this fire turns out.”

Officials have not released details on the extent of the firefighters’ injuries and are not saying where they are being treated.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports there were 31 new fire starts in Montana on Thursday, prompting moderate initial attacks by federal, state and local firefighting resources. Nine of those fires were controlled, contained or out by Thursday night.

The largest of the new starts is the 650-acre Devils Creek Fire in Garfield County. Ninety percent of the other Thursday starts are 10 acres or less in size.

The National Interagency Situation Reporting Programs identifies 72 percent of the current fires in Montana are human caused and the rest are lightning caused.

The National Interagency Fire Center reports there are 31 uncontained large fires in the Northern Rockies, which includes Montana, Idaho and North Dakota, covering more than 296,000 acres.
Both the Northern Rockies and National fire preparedness levels are at 5, the highest state because of widespread fire activity.

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