(Missoula Current) Scorching temperatures and gusty winds helped a wildfire near Seeley Lake grow to more than 4,300 acres on Monday – up from 3,000 acres the day before.

Fire officials said the Colt fire is burning in dense timber with heavy dead and downed fuels, resulting in torching and spotting. The fire began last Monday on the Lolo National Forest and has prompted a number of evacuation orders and warnings.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office issued evacuation orders for residents along Highway 83 between mile markers 31 and 27. Evacuation warnings are currently in effect for residents on Beaver Creek Road, and those north and south of Lake Inez.

The fire also has prompted the closure of several popular campgrounds including Rainy Lake, Lake Alva and Lakeside. The Red Cross has established an evacuation shelter in Ovando.

“It's a full suppression fire and firefighters are creating fuel breaks and containment lines, and performing structure protection assessments and preparations,” fire officials said in their daily briefing. “Air resources will be used as needed to slow the fire's spread and to cool down areas of heat.”

A drone incursion occurred on Friday. It's a misdemeanor under state law to fly drones that interfere with fire suppression efforts and it comes with a fine up to $1,500. Violators may also be liable for firefighting costs.

Colt fire perimeter map as of Tuesday, July 25, 2023.
Colt fire perimeter map as of Tuesday, July 25, 2023.