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

Evacuation orders and warnings are in effect northwest of Seeley Lake

The area of t
The Colt Fire as of 5 p.m. on July 12, 2023

The Missoula County Sheriff’s department has issued an evacuation order for residents along Highway 83, between mile markers 27 and 31, in response to the Colt Fire burning 15 miles northwest of Seeley Lake. An evacuation warning is in effect between mile-marker 25.5 and mile-marker 27. Saturday at 4:30 p.m., the sheriff's department issued an additional evacuation warning for the residences on the east side of Lake Inez, specifically those residences on Beargrass Ln and West Lake Way.

An evacuation warning means hazards may require immediate evacuation. This is the time for final preparation, precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile property, pets and livestock.

An evacuation order means hazards present immediate danger and you are ordered to immediately leave the area.

A Red Cross shelter was opened at the Ovando church Friday for people evacuating from the Colt Fire. Due to lack of demand, the shelter went on "standby" Saturday evening. Please call the Red Cross at (406) 215-1514 if you are evacuated due to the Colt Fire and need shelter.

As of Saturday afternoon the fire was at 1,488 acres and 0% contained. The Montana Department of Natural Resources is working the fire and an incident management team is scheduled to take control of the fire Sunday

Don't be fooled by the green you're seeing on the mountains, says Kristin Mortenson, Montana DNRC public information officer. "It's drier than it seems."

Fire danger is expected to increase with warmer temperatures forecast across Montana this weekend.

A fire near Skalkaho Pass in the Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest was burning 50 acres as of Friday afternoon. Smoke may be visible in Hamilton. Crews are also responding to several other lightning-caused fires in the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area.

In response to recent increases in fire activity across the west, both the National Interagency Fire Center and the Northern Rockies Coordination Center announced today they are raising preparedness to level 3 out of 5. That increase indicates over a quarter of the country is experiencing wildfire activity and establishes resource allocation and interagency collaboration in firefighting efforts.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.
Josh Burnham is MTPR's digital editor. He works on the news team and as a content strategist managing the station's website, podcasts, email newsletters and social media.
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