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Elmo Fire flares up; new fire sparks in Mission Mountains

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Posted at 9:54 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-04 11:16:34-04

"The fire has turned and is running hard."

That's what Lake County Sheriff Don Bell told MTN News Monday afternoon after the Elmo Fire took off near Dayton.

The fire, which started Friday evening and has burned thousands of acres north of Highway 28 between Elmo and Hot Springs, forced dozens more to evacuate Monday, destroyed one structure, and shut down a portion of Highway 93.

The evacuation notices include the Lake Mary Ronan corridor and Chief Cliff Estates near Black Lake Road. That area was in the most danger, according to Bell.

"The houses in the fire line, where the fire is running, those folks are all evacuated," he said.

An emergency shelter for evacuees has been established at Polson High School. Evacuees can call 800-272-6668 to request their services.

But it's not just evacuations. The smoke from the fast-moving Elmo Fire forced officials to close the section of Highway 93 between Elmo and Dayton. Bell was urging drivers to use Highway 35 on the eastern side of Flathead Lake instead.

With winds driving the fire, Northern Rockies Team 7 public information officer, Sara Rouse, says conditions changed rapidly Monday.

"This afternoon we had some winds come out of the west pushing the fire east and northeast from what we saw yesterday, and along with those winds we were unable to have our aircraft up at that time so it just sort of created this perfect culmination for some pretty active fire."

Fire crews are attacking the fire's edge, Rouse said, utilizing aircraft as the number of personnel working the fire continues to grow.

"Yesterday evening we had 293 people," she said. "Again, there are more resources rolling in throughout the day so that number will climb up tomorrow morning."

On Monday night, a lightning holdover in the Mission Mountains started a new fire.

C.T. Camel with CSKT Division of Fire told MTN the Red Horn Fire is high in the Missions. While the fire is visible from St. Ignatius, it's about an acre in size and not threatening any structures.

Camel, however, had a message for the public.

"We want people to be safe out there and make sure they're safe with their outdoors and recreating," he said. "We're in very high fire danger. Very close to extreme. We'd like people to be careful."