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Lake Mary Ronan area evacuated as Elmo Fire moves closer

Daily Inter Lake | August 3, 2022 10:00 AM

Three structures have been destroyed in a wildfire that continues to expand its reach west of Flathead Lake.

The Elmo 2 Fire grew another 2,000 acres on Tuesday, bringing the total acres burned to 18,427. It is estimated to be 16% contained.

Gusting winds from the west, combined with low humidity, pushed the fire north through thick timber. The fire perimeter was about 1.5 miles from Lake Mary Ronan and Big Meadows on Wednesday morning.

As many as 50 structures are threatened, according to the Northern Rockies Coordination Center, and three have been destroyed. It is unknown whether those structures are houses or other types of outbuildings.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday evening expanded an evacuation order to include all residents north and south of Lake Mary Ronan Road, and all residents along the lake itself.

Pre-evacuation warnings remain for people living east and south of U.S. 93 between the intersections with Montana 28 and Lake Mary Ronan Road.

Red Cross Evacuation Centers are in place at Polson High School and Somers Middle School. A community meeting was planned for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Elmo Pow Wow Grounds.

More firefighters joined the attack Tuesday, bringing the total personnel on the scene to 375. The crews are being managed by John Thompson’s Northern Rockies Team 7.

On Tuesday, firefighters on the ground with aerial support were able to establish control lines on the east and west flanks. The southern edge along Montana 28 remained contained.

On the north flank, crews were working to build fire lines and contain spot fires in hay fields. Engines patrolled the fire overnight.

Structure protection and mitigation efforts were expected to continue Wednesday near Lake Mary Ronan.

The cost to fight the fire so far is estimated at $3.7 million.

In northern Lincoln County, the Weasel Fire was estimated at 155 acres and 0% contained on Wednesday morning.

The lightning-caused fire is burning about 14 miles northeast of Eureka in the Ten Lakes area. About 70 firefighters are assigned to the blaze.

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