Fire danger grows as high temperatures meet high winds
The Elmo Fire near the western shore of Flathead Lake grew to over 18,000 acres at last report. Officials on Wednesday said the fire has burned four homes and four outbuildings and has a high potential for reaching Lake Mary Ronan by this evening.
About 150 homes are now in the mandatory evacuation area. The Lake County Sheriff's office is asking residents who have not heeded the evacuation order for Lake Mary Ronan Road, to do so.
Fire managers say they are pulling resources off the southern end of the fire to try to impede the blaze’s progress to the north in order to prevent it from threatening more homes.
The fire was listed at 16 percent contained Wednesday morning, but that may be outdated as that figure was based on a previous flight mapping the fire’s growth. Officials expect the fire to grow with persistent winds and hot temperatures in the forecast. They say that the containment percentage could drop along with that growth.
Fire managers will hold a community meeting at the Pow Wow Grounds in Elmo at 7 p.m. tonight.
High wind and fire danger warnings are in place for much of western and central Montana this afternoon.
The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest updated its fire danger to "Very High" Wednesday due to the hot and dry conditions.
According to the National Weather Service in Missoula, the combination of gusty winds and low humidity will create critical fire conditions in the region Thursday afternoon and evening.
Winds on Flathead Lake could cause waves 1 to 3 feet from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday. Boaters are advised to use extra caution since rough waves can overturn small crafts.
A fire this afternoon near Great Falls was quickly knocked down by fire crews. It was reported around 2 p.m., and by 4 p.m. Great Falls Fire Rescue posted on Facebook saying crews were beginning to mop up hotspots.
The fire sent up smoke near the Highland and Mount Olivet Cemeteries. No structures were damaged. Great Falls Fire Rescue requests people avoid the area as first responders continue to make sure the fire doesn’t spread.