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Evacuation orders lifted, fire containment grows

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POLSON — Wildfire crews increased fire containment this past week as they continued to grapple with the destructive Boulder 2700 Fire. 

In a Monday morning update, fire officials with the Northern Rockies Type II Incident Management Team 4 reported that the 2,072 acre fire, burning eight miles east of Polson, is currently 31 percent contained, up from zero containment on Friday. 

The Boulder 2700 fire was initially reported as burning above U.S. Highway 35 early Saturday morning on Aug. 31 by several Finley Point residents. 

By Saturday afternoon, the fire appeared to have been quickly suppressed and held to less than 100 acres in size by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Division of Fire team that included fire fighters and a squadron of helicopters with water buckets.

Unfortunately, a heavy downslope wind on Saturday night fanned the flames and pushed the wildfire across the highway, which triggered a predawn evacuation on Sunday. More than 500 residents along U.S. Highway 35 from mile marker six to 13 on the east side of Flathead Lake, including all of Finley Point, were evacuated.  

The Red Cross established an evacuation center at the Linderman gymnasium where displaced residents found a bed, shower and other emergency accommodations.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office began the process of lifting some of the evacuation orders and issuing re-entry permits to residents for portions of the Finley Point area, while fire fighters strengthened and gained control along fire containment lines. Crews from Mission Valley Power began repairing downed transmission lines and restoring power to the area. 

By Thursday evening, the majority of the residents in the Finley Point area were allowed back home, while roughly 50 homes along U.S. Highway 35 remained under evacuation orders.

According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the area directly affected by the fire from mile marker 9 to 11 remains evacuated due to post wildfire hazards including unstable and fire weakened hazard trees, rocks and rolling debris on slopes, fire trucks and equipment moving through the area, utility 

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