The Elmo Fire burning near the west shore of Flathead Lake is now almost two-thirds contained, according to Fire Information Officer Sara Rouse who spoke to us early Thursday morning.

Rouse provided the latest update on the fire.

“The current status of the Elmo Fire is that is it 21,349 acres and 66 percent contained,” said Rouse. “We've seen some slower growth over the last couple of days. When the fire started out over a week ago, it was a fast-moving fire and it grew about 7,000 acres on that first evening, and then proceeded to grow a couple of thousand acres over the next couple of days as we experienced high winds and red flag warnings. Then over the last four or five days, we have seen decreased fire activity and crews have really been able to get on the ground and get some lines around there and keep that fire in its current footprint.”

Rouse explained the progress in fighting the Elmo Fire.

“There's been really good progress for a couple of reasons,” she said. “One, again, the weather changed and became a little bit more favorable. Secondly, we’ve had a large number of people on this fire, starting at over 600, but now it’s about down to 524 today. There are lots and lots of boots on the ground, so to speak, with lots of people out there doing hard work, and we had a lot of air support craft. At one point in time, we had six scooper planes, and various helicopters dropping buckets and retardant. So we're very fortunate to have all of those resources at hand.”

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Rouse said the fire will continue to burn until it runs out of fuel within its interior.

“No doubt the fire will continue to burn within the interior for some time, potentially until we get some significant moisture,” she said. “We'll continue to see small islands of trees potentially smoking or burning. The focus is getting that perimeter so that the line that's all around the fire to a containment status. They’re looking at coming about 200 feet in or more and having that area completely black and cold, they’re not expecting anything to come outside of that footprint.”

Rouse said most of the evacuations have been lifted and primary roads opened with some exceptions.

“Most of the evacuation orders and pre-evacuation warnings have been lifted for that entire area,” he said. “There's one small piece that they called Camp Tuffit Road, also known as the West Shore Road that remains under the evacuation order and is closed to all traffic. This fire is human-caused, but the exact cause is still under investigation. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are handling the investigation. As of last night, we had a cost of $12.6 million to fight the Elmo Fire."

The boat ramp at the Elmo fishing access site and Lake Mary Ronan State Park are now open.

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