HELENA – A storm moving in has brought heavy rain prompting the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Office to lift evacuation orders for the Alice Creek Fire.

Sheriff Leo Dutton said his office spoke with fire officials and decided that as of noon on Thursday all residents evacuated will be allowed to return to their homes and cabins.

With snow starting to fall on Rogers Pass, and the first measurable moisture in weeks, residents who’ve been living in the shadow of the Alice Creek and Park Creek fires expressed gratitude to those who’ve been working to keep the community safe.

“We’ve all been really appreciative to all the firefighters that are around. A lot of people in our little towns, and my husband included, he has been working on these fires, so I mean, for a lot of us, this hits homes with the firefighters, that they are not just strangers coming outside of town, they are our husbands, our sons and our brothers that are going out and we really appreciate them going out and keeping us safe,” said Bobbie Jean Buster, Lincoln resident.

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Buster also said she was glad the moisture is here, but the fires are still burning.

“Fire runs deep and into the trees and the under brush, while the rain is helping to keep the fire down a little bit it, it still runs down deep and it’s going to a little more than just this storm, which we are grateful for but we need more than this to put the fires out,” said Buster.

Another resident agreed but recognized that the firefighters aren’t out of the woods yet.

“We should know from experience that this is not going to a season ending event it will slow things down for the firefighters to do their jobs, but we are still going to have fire fighters in the area quite a while yet,” said Roger Dey, Lincoln resident.

The areas currently on evacuation orders, which have been lifted, include residents on Highway 200, Elk Meadows Subdivision, Alice Creek and Copper Creek/Landers Fork area, to include Elk Trail Loop, Heavenly Pines.

The Sheriff’s Office will meet again on Friday to assess the situation and determine whether the change will continue to affect residents only. Currently, no non-residents are allowed in the area.

Dutton also said roadblocks to log residents in and out will remain in place.

As of Thursday morning, the Alice Creek Fire had burned just over 29,000 acres and is 15 percent contained.

The evacuations may be lifted, but fire restrictions are still in place and no campfires are allowed.

For more information on all Montana fires, click here.

Carly Garrison contributed to this report. 

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