West Fork fire: Evacuations ordered, roads closed, public meeting scheduled in Libby

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Officials Sunday morning ordered evacuations, closed another road and scheduled a public meeting for later in the day as a result of the West Fork fire, which was measured overnight at 1,600 acres.

Lincoln County Sheriff Roby Bowe ordered the evacuation of the 17 Mile Road area shortly before 10 a.m. Sunday. At a meeting of county officials and staff, he said that there was a 50-acre spot fire burning on Mount Tom.

About 12:30 p.m., the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page reported the closure of Pipe Creek Road from the 12-mile marker to the summit.

Bowe earlier in the day scheduled a public meeting to discuss the West Fork fire for 4 p.m. Sunday at Libby High School at 150 Education Way in Libby.

Grant Rider, Type III Incident Commander for the Forest Service, estimated Sunday morning that about 30 personnel were on the ground fighting or managing the West Fork fire. Equipment included logging clippers and skidders, dozers and at least five fire engines, he said.

Rider said their first priority remains assessing threats to structures in the upper Bobtail Road area and preparing shaded fuel breaks alongside properties.

According to the National Weather Service out of Missoula, a red flag warning is in effect from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

A Forest Service fact sheet released Sunday morning states, “Hot and dry conditions will continue today with breezy afternoon winds. Winds are expected to pick up sometime between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. A Canadian cold front will bring a shift in wind direction Sunday night with winds becoming north to northeasterly.”

Araes that remained under pre-evacuation notice early Sunday afternoon were the upper end of Bobtail Road north of Bobtail Cutoff/Hutton Drive; Bobtail Cutoff including Winter Road and Whitetail Road; Pipe Creek Road from Forest Way, including Lodge Pole Road, Blue Mountain Lookout Road and Doak Creek Road; and Creekside Road to 17 Mile Road.

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