Sawtooth Stage 2 Evacuation is Lifted [AUDIO]
The Stage 2 Evacuation Notice at the Sawtooth forest fire west of Hamilton has been lifted.
The Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman and the incident commanders reviewed the containment work and contingency fire lines and decided to let residents back to their homes in the zones closest to the fire.
Those returning are still under Stage 1 Evacuation Notice, meaning that they need to be ready to evacuate should conditions worsen. The areas currently under Stage 1 have not changed. Also, roadblocks will be maintained to limit traffic to local residents only on Owings Creek Road and Westside Road, between the junction with Owings Creek Road and the intersection with Roaring Lion Road.
Officials said there is still "significant risk" with the Sawtooth Fire and residents are urged to NOT return large livestock or large trailers and other other vehicles that might make firefighting difficult. Those with health problems should not go back into the Stage 1 areas. More evacuation information is at the Ravalli County Emergency Operations Center at (406) 375-6650.
The winds are expected to stay light for the next few days, and the cool weather at night, with frost, is helping firefighters. There is still active fire on the edges of the Sawtooth fire. Crews are focusing on structure protection on the eastern edge and air operations on the north and south perimeters.
Air quality at the Ravalli County Courthouse monitor Sunday morning was "Unhealthy."
The travel on US 12 near the Powell Complex of fires on the Idaho side of Lolo Pass is very smoky. Extreme caution is advised between Warm Springs trailhead (the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs access) and downriver. Drive slowly, with headlights on at all times, and be careful when passing. Only pull over to the shoulder if you are having an emergency, and at that point, make sure your flashers are on.
At the south end of the Bitterroot National Forest, the Mustang Complex merged with the Hamilton forest fire. That has caused confusion. The Hamilton forest fire is many miles from the town of Hamilton and nowhere near the Sawtooth fire. Apparently, rumors blossomed that the Mustang and Sawtooth Fires had merged. They have not. Extreme caution is urged on US 93 by the Mustang fire. Pilot cars are being used at times, due to fire traffic and heavy smoke.
Fire Information Officer Tom Kempton