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Pre-evacuation warning issued for homes near Olney, Stryker

| August 18, 2023 10:00 AM

Residences near the East Fork Fire south of Stryker were placed under a pre-evacuation warning Thursday evening as winds whipped up fire activity.

Flathead County Sheriff Brian Heino issued the warning after the fire expanded to 2,600 acres. The pre-evacuation area includes U.S. 93 beginning at mile marker 142 south of Olney, and goes north to the county line.

The lightning-caused wildfire is south of Stryker and west of Olney on the Kootenai and Flathead forests. It was burning in heavy timber and difficult terrain, and was considered 40% contained Thursday.

Critical fire weather was expected to affect the area through Friday night with gusty winds and low humidity.

A pre-evacuation warning means there is a possibility of the fire spreading into the area. Residents were advised to make plans for their home, pets, livestock and family. Residents, landlords, hotels and businesses in the area should have an evacuation plan ready, Heino said.

Sheriff’s Office personnel planned to notify residents by going door to door on Thursday. The Flathead County Office of Emergency Services can be reached at 406-758-2111.

A shelter at the Columbia Falls Junior High School is available for people affected by the evacuation. The Red Cross can be reached at 1-800-733-2767.

Fire managers said Flathead and Lincoln counties, the Montana Department of Natural Resources, Bonneville Power, Montana Department of Transportation and BNSF Railway are cooperating to provide information, help with structure protection and any necessary public safety needs.

Fire managers requested a complex incident management team to support firefighting efforts with a surge of additional resources.

A detailed list of addresses affected by the evacuation warning can be found here.