Elmo 2 fire forces new evacuations, smoke fills region

Joshua Murdock Griffen Smith

ELMO — Near-hundred-degree temperatures and wind gusts of 25 mph energized the Elmo 2 fire on Monday, forcing evacuations along Black Lake Road near Lake Mary Ronan and threatening Flathead Lake’s Dayton Bay.

As many as 19 new wildfires ignited across western Montana over the weekend, from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, as temperatures into the triple-digits baked the landscape. Two small fires sparked in the Missoula Valley, but both were suppressed Sunday evening.

Most of the fires were small and quickly brought under control. In contrast, Elmo 2 fire started Monday at almost 13,000 acres on the west side of Flathead Lake, before taking a major run Monday afternoon. And existing fires in the region continued to grow. 

A red-flag warning indicating extreme fire conditions was in place for Monday. Also on Monday, the Bitterroot National Forest raised its fire danger to extreme, the highest of five levels. Fire danger is very high — the second-highest level — on the Lolo National Forest. Fire danger is extreme on the Salmon-Challis National Forest in Idaho. 

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