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Thursday Afternoon Fire Forces Some Evacuations in Bitterroot Valley [AUDIO]

Brush Fire
Photo by Chris Schneider/Getty Images

A homeowner near Reed Butte, not far from Stevensville in the Bitterroot Valley, lost control of a brush fire on Thursday afternoon, and the strong winds in the area spread the fire to over 150 acres, prompting Ravalli County sheriff’s deputies to evacuate several homes in the area.

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman said the first call for help came in between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m.

“We received a call that a controlled burn had gotten out of control in the Sunnyside Cemetery-Reed Butte area east of Stevensville,” Hoffman said. “Sheriff’s deputies gave evacuation notices to five homes, three of which were occupied at the time. The fire did get close to those structures, but firefighters were able through great effort, keep everything from burning except for one storage shed.”

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman

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Three-Mile fire district chief Russ Geesey said the fire produced an all-out effort by several departments in the Bitterroot Valley.

“Mutual aid came in from Florence, Stevensville, Corvallis, Victor, Pinesdale and Hamilton,” Geesey said. “The Department of Natural Resources and Conservation sent a helicopter along with two engines, and there were 10 smokejumpers on the way if we needed them. The fire was running every direction, and we just couldn’t get our arms around it. But, finally, we did.”

Geesey said two firefighters were injured while fighting the brush fire.

“We had a couple of firefighters from Stevensville that had to be taken to the hospital from the heat, dehydration, and a little smoke inhalation,” Geesey said. “We were five hours into the fire before we could call it controlled. We’ll be patrolling the area all night looking for any hot spots.”

Three-Mile Fire District Chief Russ Geesey

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