POLSON — Fire managers told Gov. Greg Gianforte the Boulder 2700 Fire burning east of Polson is still "very active" and has now consumed more than 1,800 acres.
The governor visited the fire camp in Ronan on Thursday morning, checking in on the progress against the blaze which erupted over the weekend.
The fire was initially thought to be in hand before the winds shifted and it exploded back across Montana Highway 35 late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, burning more than 20 structures including eight primary residences near Finley Point.
Leaders of the Type 2 Fire Team that assumed command on the blaze earlier this week told Gov. Gianforte there's still a lot of work to be done before they can say they have any containment on the fire.
Brett Pargman, the Operations Section Chief with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team, explained how fire crews are working to get ahead of the fire on both the southern and northern flanks. Part of that strategy is to use the Boulder Creek drainage to try and contain the fire.
Pargman told Gov. Gianforte power crews are still working to restore service to some of the area and that there are considerable debris and hazard trees in the heart of the burned area that is still presenting safety problems.
He said crews were also dispatched to deal with a spot fire started when burning debris crossed over the divide into timberlands in the Swan Valley. That blaze quickly burned 100 acres, showing how dry conditions have become.
Lake County Sheriff Don Bell says of the 500 people that were evacuated over the weekend, 450 have been allowed to return to their homes.
Gov. Gianforte also visited the Red Cross evacuation shelter in Polson, where shelter managers told of the amazing response from individuals, businesses, and community groups to help with donations of food and other supplies.