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Sawtooth Fire is Now 2,600 Acres

Sawtooth Fire
The Sawtooth Fire at mid-afternoon Monday, viewed from US 93 North of Hamilton.. (KLYQ Photo)

Many left their homes and some stayed as the Level 2 Evacuation was carried out Monday in advance of the Sawtooth Fire west of Hamilton.

The fire burst onto the eastern face of Downing Mountain and quickly passed the Grubstake Restaurant on its way down the hill. The restaurant is still standing.

The predicted cold front hit the fire about noon and the winds were between 40-50 mph at times during the day. The fire reached and, in places, crossed the contingency line of roads and bulldozed fireline partway up the mountain.

The fires that crossed the line were caught by firefighters. Generally, fire officials say the main blaze is south of the large painted “H” on the hillside. Officials report that no structures were involved with fire by 7 p.m.

Helicopters were used early in the morning, then were grounded by the smoke and wind in the afternoon, but hit the fire again late in the afternoon. Volunteer Fire Departments from throughout Ravalli County have responded to provide structure protection. A night shift is on the contingency line tonight and the fire is expected to move to the north, with more wind. Windy conditions are also predicted for Tuesday.

The Stage 2 evacuation was requested at about noon Monday for the area bounded by Paradise Trail and Blodgett Camp Road on the north, West Side road on the east and North Gold Creek Loop on the south. That area is now blockaded with Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office patrols and only residents allowed. Quite a few people evacuated, but there were many reports of those who have stayed.

The Ravalli County Emergency Operations Center is now staffed with evacuation information at 406-375-6650.

Sawtooth Fire information is available at 406-363-3556 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m..

The American Red Cross has an evacuation center at the First Baptist Church, 354 Cooper Lane, Hamilton with the phone number 406-363-3735. Those who have evacuated are asked to check in and sign a registry, even if they do not plan to stay at the shelter.

The Ravalli County Fairgrounds has opened its barns to shelter large animals and livestock, but owners need to feed and care for them.

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