The Sheep Gap fire as seen from River Road West on 9.12.17. (photo credit: Rosalind Springer

PLAINS – Increased activity on the Highway 200 Complex Fires means more residents have to leave their homes on Tuesday.

The evacuations affect residents in the area of the Sheep Gap Fire in Sanders County, which is the largest blaze in the Complex.

Swamp Creek Road, from four-corners to the U.S. Forest Service boundary has been evacuated. Meanwhile, residents along Black Jack and Mountain roads are now under Pre-evacuation warnings.

Affected residents are being contacted individually by law enforcement officials. Fire officials are asking that “When acting on changes to information, do so in a calm, rational, and respectful way.”

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Fire managers posted the following message on Wednesday morning:

“The rumor that the increased activity on the Sheep Gap Fire was caused by a lost burn-out operation is incorrect. As winds increased during the critical fire weather this afternoon, all fires within the Highway 200 Complex experienced increased fire behavior. On the Sheep Gap specifically, the southwest corner of the fire crossed the drainage, hooked around, and started heading to the east. This movement, prompted the Sanders County Sheriff to issue evacuations along Swamp Creek and Pre-evacuation warnings Black Jack Road.”

Fire officials reported that Tuesday afternoon brought increased winds and more fire activity and that all of the fires within the Highway 200 Complex experienced increased fire behavior. In several areas, spot fires that ignited in thick timber and fuels produced large smoke columns.

Fire say that as of 6 a.m. Wednesday no structures had been lost.

A Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team will be assuming command of the blazes at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Highway 200 Complex fire has burned 24,200 acres and there are 308 people assigned to the blaze.

Sheep Gap – 40 percent contained – 13,414 acres: Tuesday night, the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuations for residents along Swamp Creek Road from 4-corners to the Forest Service boundary. Pre-evacuation orders were also extended for the Black Jack and Mountain Roads. On Wednesday firefighters will patrol for, and suppress, any spot fires that resulted from Tuesday night’s increased fire activity.

Deep Creek – 0 percent contained – 5,733 acres: A Pre-evacuation order is still in effect East of the Clark Fork River in the Blue Slide Area. Smoke will be visible as areas within the fire continue to burn.

Cub Creek – 0 percent contained- 4,034 acres: Pre-evacuation orders are in effect for an area west of Highway 200 from White Pine Creek to Cherry Creek.

Reader Fires – 95 percent contained – 152 acres (total)

Miller Creek – 0 percent contained – 892 acres