Fire may force evacuations in Ravalli County - KXLH.com | Helena, Montana

Fire may force evacuations in Ravalli County

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The fire is burning just west of US 93 between Hamilton and Darby. The fire is burning just west of US 93 between Hamilton and Darby.
Approximate location of Observation Point Fire Approximate location of Observation Point Fire

The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office is warning residents to prepare for possible Stage 1 evacuations as the Observation Point fire southwest of Hamilton continues to expand. 

That means there is a high probability of evacuations, but the official evacuation order has not been issued yet and residents are not being asked to leave their homes at this point. 

The fire is burning just west of US 93 between Hamilton and Darby.

Ravalli County Undersheriff Steve Holten told MTN News that residents should not panic, but be prepared in case the situation worsens and they are asked to evacuate. 

The areas under Stage 1 (Alert and Warning) are Gold Creek including Whispering Pines and Highland Drive south to Highway 93 to Lost Horse Road and including both sides of Lost Horse Road, according to the RCSO. 

The lightning-sparked fire has grown to 322 acres since Friday. 

The fire is burning in very steep terrain making fire suppression efforts difficult.

Helicopters have dropped more than 100,000 gallons of water on the fire and 117 people are fighting it, along with a 2,600 gallon helicopter. Officials estimate that the fire is only about 5% contained. 

A dozer line is being constructed from Lost Horse Road to the southeast side of fire. Ground crews plan to focus on the southwest and northeast sides of the fire while aerial resources will continue work in the inaccessible terrain. The Incident Command Post was scheduled to move to the Darby High School on Monday. 

A new road and area closure order was expanded Monday evening to include the Lost Creek Horse Road (FSR #429) from the junction with Lick Creek Road (FSR#5621) west to Twin Lakes, Schumaker Campground and Bear Creek Pass Trailhead due to firefighter and public safety concerns. The public is encouraged to minimize traffic in the area. Lake Como and Coyote Coulee Trail remain open.However boaters may observe helicopters dipping water from Lake Como and are advised to stay clear of any aircraft. 

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is also in place for a 5 mile radius above the fire west of Highway 93. For more specific information about the TFR visit FAA.gov. 

Any questions about stage 1 Alert and Warning in the Lost Horse/Gold Creek area, or in regards to livestock relocation, please call the Ravalli County Emergency Operations Center at 406-375-6650.

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