Residents Set to Flee as Fire Perils Homes in Northwestern Montana

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Residents of about 30 homes near this resort community packed up belongings Monday in anticipation of fleeing a wildfire that was about two miles away.

The residents of the area, which is called Star Meadows, began removing pets and belongings, but few left themselves, said Chuck Rhodes, a former sheriff who is coordinating activities with the Flathead and North Valley search and rescue associations.

“We’re feeling rather rushed,” said Carol Hansen, who said she couldn’t see the fire from her house as she packed.

The so-called Little Wolf fire is one of more than 150 in northwestern Montana that together have burned about 45,000 acres. The Little Wolf fire, the state’s largest, grew by 2,000 acres overnight into a 14,000-acre blaze.


Meanwhile, a 3,000-acre blaze was encroaching on 37 homes west of Libby, and a Red Cross shelter was prepared there for possible evacuees.

If the Little Wolf fire burns toward the homes in Star Meadows, some may be hard to save because they are in small clearings in the forest, said Flathead National Forest Supervisor Joel Holtrop.

Nearly 1,400 firefighters and support crews were battling the fire. In addition, there were 25 fire engines, 17 bulldozers, three helicopters and 22 water trucks.