Fast action Friday night kept a wildfire from reaching the west shore of Flathead Lake, but conditions remain tense through the hot weekend.
About 7,000 acres of grassland and forest burned by Saturday afternoon in the Elmo 2 fire, which started about 6:30 p.m. Friday. It appeared to have combined with a much smaller Eagle Mountain fire as they burned through forest between Lake Mary Ronan and the Hog Heaven Range of hills northwest of Big Arm Bay.
Within two hours of ignition, the fires had expanded to about 2,000 acres, forcing evacuations in the Elmo vicinity and threatening homes from Dayton to Big Arm. Its cause remains under investigation.
Smokejumpers, aerial tankers and fire departments from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Rollins, Hot Springs, Polson, Ronan, Finley Point/Yellow Bay and Mission all sent 130 personnel to the fire Friday night.
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The Red Cross chapter in Polson arranged a pancake breakfast for evacuated families and travelers at the Linderman School parking lot, which was opened for campers to relocate. A Polson Chamber of Commerce notice stated no donations were needed as of Saturday morning,