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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Evacuations Ordered In Essex As Sheep Fire Threatens Town

The Billings Chinook Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant from the mobile retardant base onto the Sheep Fire, part of the Thompson-Divide Complex, burning near Highway 2 about 2 miles south of Essex, MT, Aug. 20, 2015.
Jonathan Moor/Inciweb
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The Billings Chinook Type-1 Helicopter drops fire retardant from the mobile retardant base onto the Sheep Fire, part of the Thompson-Divide Complex, burning near Highway 2 about 2 miles south of Essex, MT, Aug. 20, 2015.

A mandatory evacuation of Essex and the surrounding area was ordered at about 2:45 this afternoon by the Flathead County Sheriff. Fire Information Officer Sonja Hartmann says the Sheep Fire burning just south of Highway 2 near Glacier National Park moved within a half mile of the town.

"At this time the fire has become more active and I think the thought was, if we can get people out a little earlier, almost a precautionary, but definitely mandatory evacuation, then we have more time to do so safely. As well as starting to get our fire fighting efforts into Essex, which can be done a lot easier when we don’t have a lot of people there."

There are about 150 residences in Essex.

An evacuation center established by the American Red Cross is located at the West Glacier Elementary School.

A public meeting tonight in the gym of the West Glacier Elementary school will start at 8:00 p.m.

Highway 2 is now closed from mile markers 176.8-185. The BNSF and Amtrack railroads in the area are also closed.

Flathead County Office of Emergency Services: 406-758-2111

American Red Cross Contact Number: 1-800-272-6668

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