news and events » news

News Header

News Item

return to News

Montana fire reaches 2,000 acres in size within two hours of ignition

by Rob Chaney, The Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.) |

Fast action Friday night kept a wildfire from reaching the west shore of Flathead Lake in Montana, but conditions remain tense through the hot weekend.

About 7,000 acres of grassland and forest burned by Saturday afternoon in the Elmo 2 Fire, which started about 6:30 p.m. Friday. It appeared to have combined with a much smaller Eagle Mountain fire as they burned through forest between Lake Mary Ronan and the Hog Heaven Range of hills northwest of Big Arm Bay.

Within two hours of ignition, the fires had expanded to about 2,000 acres, forcing evacuations in the Elmo vicinity and threatening homes from Dayton to Big Arm. Its cause remains under investigation.

Smokejumpers, aerial tankers and fire departments from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Rollins, Hot Springs, Polson, Ronan, Finley Point/Yellow Bay and Mission all sent 130 personnel to the fire Friday night.

Winds Friday evening appeared to push the front of the blaze from its origin, about 8 miles west of Lakeside, eastward toward Flathead’s west shore. Satellite imagery from the National Weather Service showed it creating its own pyrocumulus cloud around 7 p.m. Friday.