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Residents north of Superior put on evacuation standby

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Jul 17 2013 09:31:37 AM MDT
Updated On: Jul 17 2013 10:06:31 PM MDT
SUPERIOR, Mont. -

Changing weather has put residents living north of Superior on notice to evacuate, as the West Mullan Fire burns out of control.

Folks living on the north side of Superior, north of the bridge are on evacuation standby. That is pending changing weather conditions that could trigger a full evacuation. Residents just in the Flat Creek area as well as West Mullan Road have been evacuated already.

Crews have been pulled off fire lines because of dangerous situations with changing weather. Though a night shift crew will do some work overnight.

Commanders are also focused on fighting the fire from the sky with six helicopters and two planes.

The blaze has burned more than 2,100 acres so far, and at last check is about 20 percent contained.  50 homes have been evacuated and are threatened by the fire, but no structures have been damaged yet.

If you need more information about the West Mullan Fire, you can call the fire command hotline at (406) 649-9032.

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The following is an evening update from Northern Rockies Incident Management Team's Tom Heintz, Incident Commander:

Fire Update: Storms predicted for the area did not occur in the immediate vicinity of the fire today, but strong winds did develop in the afternoon.  This pushed the fire to the north and east toward Flat Creek.  The fire moved over the ridge on the southeast side and approached Jim Creek.  It is not yet on the face of the slope above Flat Creek.  Fire also made a run on the northwest edge between two existing roads. The fire has crossed Pardee Creek and moved northwest of the ridge between Pardee and Keystone Creeks. Over 20,000 gallons of retardant and 700,000 gallons of water were dumped on the eastern and northeastern flanks of the fire.  Operations tonight will continue to monitor the fire and take suppression actions where appropriate.  Fire hoses are being laid above residences in Superior.  Tomorrow, crews will work along Flat Creek to prepare for suppression actions up to Wood Creek with the intent to join with the line coming from Pardee Creek.  Additional crews and engines have been arriving and more have been ordered to help with the effort. Superior VFD has requested mutual aid support from other fire departments in Montana.

Tomorrow’s weather is predicted to start a warming and drying trend into the weekend.  Winds will be reduced and come from the west.  Temperatures should increase to the 90’s with humidity in the teens during the day.  Humidity will have little recovery overnight and thermal belts will develop.  This will influence fire behavior as it will stay active and move downslope during nighttime hours.  There is concern with the amount of heavy fuels on the east side of Flat Creek. 

Closures: The Clark Fork River has been closed to recreational use through the town of Superior because of helicopter operations. Vista Trail just north of Superior has been closed to public access.

Special Concerns:  New fire starts!  The public is asked to stay clear of the helicopter dip site for their safety.  Residents are reminded that periods of heavy smoke may be a health hazard and are advised to limit their exposure. Pardee and East Pardee Creeks and part of West Mullan Road remain under mandatory evacuation.  West Mullan and East Mullan Road from Sunflower Lane to Big Eddy and side roads between are now under mandatory evacuation. Flat Creek Road is also under this evacuation order. Bonneville Power Administration has been alerted of the potential for the fire to approach the transmission line within the next 24 to 48 hours.  About 50 residences are threatened by the fire, but no structures have been damaged. 

More Information: Visit Inciweb at www.inciweb.org, email westmullanfire@gmail.com or call fire information 406-649-9032. A community meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m. at the Mineral County Courthouse in Superior.