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Residents displaced by Mill Creek Fire sound off on fire crew response

By Faith Smith, KECI Reporter, fcronin@keci.com
Published On: Jul 25 2013 10:41:32 PM MDT
Updated On: Jul 25 2013 11:06:27 PM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Fire crews battle to save homes from a fast moving blaze northeast of Frenchtown. The blaze sparked Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m. and forced fire officials to put in voluntary evacuation notices for folks in the Mill Creek Road area. 

NBC Montana caught up with Frenchtown resident Mike Rutter, who tells us the scene reminded him of the Black Cat Fire that threatened homes in August of 2007 and burned at least three structures. 

Rutter tells us he’s impressed with the quick response from fire crews. 

"When the fire came on us last time the wind shifted and kind of caught everybody off-guard including the fire crews,” he said.  “This one's not as intense as last time and the response by fire crews is significantly better." 

Rutter's house sits right below the fire line but he tells us the response from the air and on the ground put him at ease. 

"They’ve got aircrafts in the air and there's been a lot of ground response,” said Rutter.  “The Frenchtown crew and Hot Shot crew are up there and that makes me feel better." 

Frenchtown native MiKaila Neilson tells NBC Montana she was concerned for her neighbors and their pets.   

"It’s pretty much my hometown and my love, thoughts and prayers are going out to these people who have children, horses, animals,” she said. "I have pigs, horses, dogs, cats and I would do anything to get them." 

As for Rutter, he's breathing easier tonight because his family is going home this evening. 

"It looks like it's kind of moved up and over top of the mountain so now it won't burn back towards the house because it's already burnt,” he said.  

Nearly 175 crew members are on the scene battling the blaze. 

Fire officials say winds in the area are dying down and they hope the cooler evening temperatures will help them contain the fire.