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Wildfire near Essex grows to over 560 acres

Posted at 3:14 PM, Aug 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 17:15:06-04

ESSEX – The Paola Ridge fire burning on the Flathead National Forest near Essex has scorched 566 acres and an evacuation warning for some residents remains in place.

The evacuation warning runs from mile marker 176 to mile marker 179 on US Highway 2 and includes residences on Branch Road, Bugling Elk Trail, Dickey Creek Loop, Eagle Haunts Run and Lazy Moose Trail.

Fire managers report that cooler temperatures and a small amount of rain on Monday helped crews make headway battling the blaze.

Firefighters completed a shaded fuel break with heavy equipment from Dickey Creek Road #1639 to the local gravel pit and structure protection was completed for structures affected by the evacuation notice.

The fire has reached the toe of the slope and made runs towards Paola Creek, according to fire managers. Crews now plan to assess structures in and around Pinnacle.

Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest, except the Great Bear and the Bob Marshall Wilderness areas, have implemented Stage II Fire Restrictions.

No campfires are permitted. Smoking is also prohibited except within an enclosed building, vehicle, developed recreation area, or barren area three feet in diameter. Propane stoves that have an on/off switch are permitted.

Despite the Stage II Fire Restrictions in effect, fire officials report that crews near Essex responded to a recreational fire in the last 24 hours which pulled resources from the Paola Ridge fire.

The Paola Ridge fire was sparked by lightning on August 11th.