Posted: Jul 18, 2013 7:39 AM by Mark Thorsell - MTN News
SUPERIOR - Fire officials have ordered more mandatory evacuations because of the West Mullan Fire that's burning just outside of Superior.
The blaze is spreading down the valley, which has prompted the Mineral County Sheriff's Office to put residents north of the Clark Fork River in Superior under a mandatory evacuation order.
The new edict includes West Mullan Road and East Mullan Road from Sunflower Lane to Big Eddy as well as the side roads in that area.
Flat Creek Road is also under this evacuation order and the Bonneville Power Administration has been alerted of the potential for the fire to approach the transmission line within the next 24 to 48 hours.
Fire officials add that about 50 homes are now threatened by the 2,100-acre blaze, but so far, no structures have been lost.
Personnel have been pouring into the area and over 475 people are now assigned to the fire, which to date has cost about $1.3 million to fight.
Incident commander Tom Heintz says strong Wednesday afternoon winds pushed the blaze to the north and east toward Flat Creek.
The fire also moved over the ridge on the southeast side and approached Jim Creek. The blaze has crossed Pardee Creek and moved northwest of the ridge between Pardee and Keystone creeks.
Fire officials have dumped over 20,000 gallons of retardant and 700,000 gallons of water on the eastern and northeastern flanks of the fire to the and stop it from spreading.
Heintz says crews will be monitoring the blaze overnight and says fire hoses are being laid above residences in Superior.
Additional crews and engines have been arriving and more have been ordered to help with the effort, with the Superior Volunteer Fire Department requesting mutual aid support from other fire departments in Montana.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mineral County Sheriff Ernie Ornelas asked for mutual aid from surrounding counties for law enforcement support.
The Montana Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees at the Superior Elementary School and some livestock is being accepted at the fairgrounds in Superior.
A section of the Clark Fork River remains closed in Superior as helicopters continue to pull water from the river.