Mill Creek Fire Holds Steady - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Mill Creek Fire Holds Steady

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FRENCHTOWN -

The Mill Creek Fire is 30% contained, and no longer growing. No evacuations are in place, and no structures have been destroyed. The media was given a tour of the 720 acre fire Friday. Fire officials said they are now taking extra precautions to help prevent this kind of threat in Western Montana.

High winds and dry conditions caused a scare Thursday for residents of these Frenchtown homes, which came within 100 yards of the Mill Creek Fire.

"With the residence behind me the fire was close, 100 yards doesn't sound like a lot, that's close when it's moving as fast as it was," said Forrest Merrill, a Missoula County Public Information Officer.

A day after evacuees crowded the parking lot of a church in Frenchtown, 175 fire fighters are working on creating more containment lines to stop a fire that was originally moving quickly, fueled by grass, brush and timber.

"Timbers are what we call them," Merrill said. "They're the timbers stirred up from the winds and can quickly ignite another fire."

Immediate action by air crews kept the fire from reaching any homes.

The Mill Creek Fire is burning where the Black Cat Fire burned in 2007. Merrill said that also helped slow the flames.

He said, "Where the Black Cat had burned reduced fuels available to be able to go further to the east and north."

Lolo National Forest officials are reminding everyone, Missoula County is in "Very High" fire danger this week. The goal is to get the word out, to limit the number of human-caused fires.

"A fire that gets lit can escape control in seconds, even when someone is in a safe spot, doing a safe activity," said Chris Johnson with the Lolo National Forest.

The Mill Creek Fire was sparked by a lawn mower used by residents trying to prevent fires, a sign fire officials said, people need to be cautious of when they do fuels mitigation.

"Choosing the right day, choosing the right conditions, Spring's the thing, before snow flies in the Fall."

Stage One fire restriction orders start in Missoula County next Thursday, which means campfires are only allowed in specified areas.

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