*This story was updated at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.
A fire burning along the east shore of Flathead Lake jumped Montana Highway 35 and prompted mandatory evacuations for all of Finley Point as well as the Skidoo Lane area this morning.
In its most recent update, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Division of Fire said the Boulder 2700 Fire had grown to approximately 1,150 acres by late morning. Highway 35 is closed at its junction with U.S. Highway 93 on the south end and at mile marker 15 on the north end.
The CSKT Division of Fire said “multiple structures” have been lost to the fire, and on social media some residents were posting about losing their homes or neighbors losing homes.
“Aviation resources are continuing to drop retardant and water on this fire,” the CSKT Division of Fire stated. “A Northern Rockies Type 2 team has been assigned to this fire and will be in briefed in the next day or two.”
The fire is believed to be human-caused and is under investigation.
American Red Cross has established an evacuation shelter at Linderman Elementary School, located at 312 Fourth Ave. E. in Polson.
In a Facebook post early this morning, the Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department announced that winds shifted and were pushing the fire toward the lake to the west and south from mile marker 10 where the fire crossed the highway.
The fire department initially said the evacuations extend from mile marker 6 through mile marker 12, although a later update from the CSKT Division of Fire said the evacuation orders extended to mile marker 13.
“If you have evacuated, please put a sock on door knob and a pillow case over your mailbox to let responders know your residence is vacated,” the Finley Point/Yellow Bay Fire Department stated, adding that anyone south of mile marker 6 on Highway 35 should also be prepared for evacuation.
The fire department told residents under evacuation order to leave as soon as possible. If residents need assistance, the department said to stop by the Finley Point fire hall.
The Polson Chamber of Commerce said on Facebook it shifted this morning’s pancake breakfast, part of the annual Polson Cherry Festival, to help feed evacuees at Linderman.
The chamber of commerce said those displaced by the fire and in need of help can message the chamber directly on Facebook or Instagram, or send a text message to (406) 544-2162.
“Our deepest gratitude and appreciation goes out to the brave men and women who continue to stand on the front lines against this fire,” the chamber’s Facebook post stated. “And to those of you feeling scared and lost this morning: Our hearts are with you. We are with you. We’ll do whatever it takes to help you find your way home again.”
Power has been de-energized as a precaution for any further fire starts from mile 6 to Yellow Bay as well as Finley Point.
The fire, located eight miles east of Polson, was detected yesterday morning, prompting evacuations. The evacuation orders were lifted later in the day until the new evacuation orders were announced this morning.
The Beacon will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
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