Colt fire at 3,000 acres, evacuation orders in place with wind expected
(Missoula Current) As temperatures in Missoula neared 100 degrees for the third straight day on Sunday, a wildfire burning northeast of the city continued to grow.
The Colt fire on Monday had spread to 3,000 acres with no containment. More than 260 fire personnel are now on scene, along with five helicopters and 13 engines.
A new incident management team assumed operational control of the fire Sunday morning.
“The fire continues to actively burn on all sides and remains active during the night,” fire officials said. “The fire is expected to continue to increase in size with the forecast weather conditions.”
The National Weather Service office in Missoula issued a Red Flag warning for Monday afternoon, when gusty winds and potential dry lightning are expected to move. The critical fire weather could result in rapid spread and spark new fires across the drying region.
Crews on the Colt fire assessed their next move if structure protection becomes necessary along Highway 83 and around the lakes south and east of the fire, including Lake Alva and Lake Inez. Both are popular summer camping spots.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office also has issued evacuation orders for residents along Highway 83 between mile markers 27 and 31. Evacuation warnings also have been issued for residents between mile markers 25 and 27, as well as residents on the west side of Lake Inez.
Smoke levels in the area have become unhealthy for some groups.
"The Colt fire burning north of Seeley Lake continues to be our main smoke story for Missoula County," said Sarah Coefield with the City-County Health Department. "Its smoke pooled overnight near Summit Lake and along the Highway 83 corridor from the Seeley Lake area north to Swan Lake. As inversions broke this morning, we saw the smoke make its way to ground level. By 9 a.m., conditions became Unhealthy in Condon and Very Unhealthy at Lindbergh Lake."