The Firestone Flats Fire burning in the Jocko Canyon is now at 60 percent containment, and more than 1,700 acres burned. Crews made enough progress for evacuees to return home on Tuesday.
Crews say the blazes are human-caused, and an investigation is still underway.
At 5:00 p.m., evacuations were lifted. NBC Montana spoke with several residents about their ordeal, as they waited in a lineup of cars to get the go-ahead.
“We got a couple calls from various neighbors, it was a huge column of smoke...We started packing up right away,” said Jocko Canyon resident Fred Tilly. “We’re anxious to get back and get back to normal...It’ll take a couple days at least.”
One man told NBC Montana what he’d do when he got home: “Walk around and just look at it all and be thankful that you still got something there,” said Dave Kohl.
As of Tuesday night, Jocko Canyon Road, Pistol Creek Road and North Placid Road remain closed to the public. Fire officials say that “good progress” was made on Tuesday.
Here is Tuesday's evening update from Information Officer Cindy Super:
Size – Estimated 1750 acres
Discovered: 6 miles east of Arlee, MT on Saturday / July 27th @ 1:58 p.m.
Cause: Human, Investigation continues.
Fuels: Mixed conifer with grass.
Weather: Winds out of the northeast at 8-15 mph. Temperatures 52 to 70, Humidity 30 to 40%. Partly cloudy tonight.
Road Information: Jocko Canyon Road, Pistol Creek Road, North Placid Road remain closed to the public. Evacuations have been lifted. At 5:00 p.m. today, local residents were allowed to return to their homes. (For status of evacuation information – go to information trailer located at Jocko Road & Jocko Canyon Junction).
362 firefighters and support personnel
3 Hotshot Crews 7 Hand Crews 18 Engines
4 Helicopters 2 Dozers 6 Water Tenders
10 Heavy Equipment Assets 2 Heavy Air Tankers available as needed
Resources Threatened: Residences, watershed, cultural resources, bull trout habitat, major utility power lines, and valuable commercial timber on tribal lands.
Management Strategy: Full suppression with all available resources. Good progress was achieved on today’s operations. Tonight’s operation has 5 engine modules to patrol / monitor “hotspots”. Good communications assets and EMT’s are immediately available.