WeatherWildfire Watch


UPDATE: Niarada Fire burning 18,000+ acres, evacuation orders eased

Niarada fire
Posted at 9:26 AM, Aug 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-07 18:00:56-04

UPDATE: 4:00 p.m. - Aug. 7, 2023

Changes have been announced in the evacuation order that was issued on Aug. 4, 2023, near the 18,000-acre Niarada Fire outside of Elmo.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office downgraded people in evacuation status to a pre-evacuation warning on Monday afternoon.

The area includes Alexander Road, Early Dawn Road, Spring Lane Road, Walking Horse Lane, Windward Heights Road, Wildhorse View, Buffalo Bridge Road, Saddle Drive, Island Butte Lane, Bridle Path, Ten Deuce Way, Cliffview Drive, and Ricketts Road.

A pre-evacuation warning means that residents can return home. A social media post notes that "as there is still a potential threat from the Nairada Fire, please do not bring back evacuated livestock until the area is downgraded to READY status."

Earlier on Monday the Flathead County Sheriff's Office also announced changes in evacuations near the Niarada Fire.

The remainder of the town of Elmo is in ready status.

People should expect to see continued smoke from the Nairada Fire. Fire managers anticipate doing strategic firing operations over the coming week that will cause increased smoke.

Aircraft will continue to aid firefighters on the ground, and people may see both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters working the fire.\

ELMO - The Niarada Fire 12 miles west of Elmo has grown to 18,366 acres and is 7% contained as of Monday morning.

The blaze was sparked by lightning on July 30, 2023, as part of the widespread lightning storm that went through the area.

An evacuation order issued on Friday, Aug. 4 by the Lake County Sheriff's Office for homes covered south of Highway 93 between Alexander Lane to Walking Horse Lane remains in effect.

The evacuation notice covers the following roads:

  • Alexander Lane
  • Early Dawn Road
  • Spring Lane Road
  • Walking Horse Lane
  • Windward Heights Road
  • Wildhorse View
  • Buffalo Bridge Road
  • Saddle Drive
  • Island Butte Lane
  • Bridle Path
  • Ten Deuce Way
  • Cliffview Drive
  • Ricketts Road

Additionally, the remainder of the town of Elmo is in "ready" status.
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Fire managers report the Niarada Fire received light rain over the weekend which helped to moderate fire behavior and allowed crews more chances to build direct fire lines immediately adjacent to the fire in some areas. A large complement of engines and hand crews arrived Sunday to help bolster suppression efforts.

Firefighters continued working to secure lines along Cromwell Creek Road on the fire's northeastern perimeter, cooling hotspots and mopping up inward from control lines approximately 15 to 20 feet. Crews also continued assessing and preparing structure protection measures outside Elmo towards Big Arm.

Fire managers are shifting some crews from other areas of the Niarada and Mill Pocket fires to the southern and eastern sides of the fire to prepare for potential firing operations over the next few days. The operations reduce fuels between firelines and the active fire edge, helping to build a fuel break along the constructed line.

Firefighters working the Mill Pocket Fire continue to improve constructed firelines, according to the Monday update, and the blaze is considered to be approximately 35% contained.

Drivers should use extreme caution on Highway 28. The speed limit has been reduced to 45 mph due to poor visibility, and firefighters and equipment are still working in the area.

The Red Cross shelter at Polson High School has been moved into standby at this time.

There are 167 people assigned to the blazes.