MISSOULA — Favorable weather Tuesday helped firefighters contain a blaze burning outside Missoula, though authorities were still struggling with another fire in northwestern Montana that tripled in size a day earlier.
The fire that broke out Monday evening near Missoula about 4 miles north of Interstate 90 burned a trailer and led to the evacuation of about two dozen homes. The fire, while relatively small at 15 acres, threatened the homes in the Upper Grant Creek area.
Fire officials contained the blaze Tuesday afternoon, KECI-TV reported. The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office lifted the mandatory evacuation order, but it asked nonresidents to stay away to keep the roadways clear for firefighters.
The cause of the fire appears to be a power line downed by high winds, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said.
After two days of rapid fire growth because of blowing wind and hot, dry weather, temperatures cooled and the wind eased on Tuesday. There was a chance of rain in some of the fire areas overnight.
The change in weather eased the spread of another fire that ignited Monday in northwestern Montana west of Lakeside. There were between 75 and 100 homes and structures within a half-mile of the perimeter.
“Fire behavior was minimal last night, with isolated torching,” fire spokeswoman Ali Evans told the Daily Inter Lake on Tuesday. “I would say, while there are no mandatory evacuations at this time, people are encouraged to prepare for the possibility.”
West of Lakeside, a fire burning near Thompson falls tripled had tripled in size as of Tuesday morning, compared with the day before. More than 350 firefighters built lines and tried to keep the new growth in check, while protecting homes to the north and east near the Little Thompson River.
Hot, dry weather and gusty winds drove the fire from 4 ½ square miles on Sunday to 11 square miles on Monday, forcing the evacuation of about 20 homes in a rural area east of Thompson Falls.
On Monday, the fire blew across containment lines and grew to about 33 square miles as of Tuesday morning.
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