Liberty Fire causing concern for business owners - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Liberty Fire causing concern for business owners

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The Liberty Fire burning in the south Fork of Jocko near Seeley Lake grew rapidly this weekend.

The fire started about two weeks ago and is now 1,843 acres, according to fire officials. 

However, it took a run this weekend that sent smoke billowing into the valleys and put homeowners on alert.  

ABC FOX Montana went to the Seeley Lake area to find out how business owners are dealing with the smoke and the threat of evacuations.

"When the wind came up yesterday. We watched the fire and it got my heart going,” said Mike Boltz, Owner of Seeley Lake Motor Lodge & Wilderness Gateway Inn.

Boltz' businesses are right between two fires, the Liberty Fire in the Jocko area on one side and the Rice Ridge Fire on the other side.

He added all the wildfire smoke had him wondering if he should pack up.

"I could see the Jocko fire just flaring. Then I went across the street and I could see the other one going at full force,” said Boltz.

Boltz said he's been housing mainly firefighters and lately it's been comforting.

"Yes, it's kind of nice to have them here and you learn about the fires that way too,” said Boltz.

Missoula County Sheriffs said 170 homes could be at risk, which puts these homeowners on a stage one pre-evacuation notice last night.

However, Boltz said he's hoping to stay but won't think twice about leaving if conditions worsen or if the fire cuts power.

"I think you really can't operate without power. Not at all. You shouldn't and I think the health department says you can't,” said Boltz.

For the most part, Boltz said if something was to happen to his motels, the damages would be covered by insurance.

A public meeting will take place Monday at 7 P.M. at the Arlee Community Center.

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