An army of firefighters backed by aerial resources kept a wind-whipped wildfire in the Grant Creek drainage in check on Monday evening, but not before evacuations were ordered to a handful of residences.
The Colorado Gulch fire sparked at around 6:30 p.m., sending up a small plume of smoke north of Interstate 90. The initial attack kept the fire at roughly 15 acres, fire information officials said Tuesday morning.
Boyd Hartwig, public information officer for the Lolo National Forest, said multiple agencies responded to the incident, including the Forest Service, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Missoula Rural and the Missoula Fire Department.
Several aircraft also responded.
Hartwig said crews had established an initial fireline around the fire perimeter and will work Tuesday to reinforce the line and lay hose to treat interior hot spots. Crews also are working to develop a structure protection plan as needed.
As of Tuesday morning, Colorado Gulch remains evacuated and closed. Residents on Starwood Drive are under a preliminary evacuation notice. Grant Creek remains open to residents.
According to the National Weather Service in Missoula, wind gusts of 28 miles per hour were reported shortly after the fire started on Monday evening. The wind pushed the fire into timber and grass with active burning on all flanks.
But Hartwig said retardant drops and bucket drops from aircraft proved effective in checking the fire’s growth. The cause of hte fire remains under investigation.