Posted: Jul 31, 2013 9:02 AM by Jacqueline Quynh - MTN News
ARLEE - The Firestone Flats Fire is holding at 1,750 acres and with containment growing to 60%, residents were allowed to go home on Tuesday evening.
"It had a red angry heart," Marti De-Alva described the fire. "It was like a volcano had erupted a mile from our house."
A checkpoint still remains on Jocko Road and only residents are being let into the areas that were evacuated over the weekend.
Residents like De-Alva had to wait nearly three days to get the all clear to return home Tuesday night.
"It feels pretty good. I can go home and get a shower at home," said Paul Philips, who was also evacuated.
"I'm just grateful my home is still standing and no else lost their home," Patrick McMurray added.
Residents on their way home told us they are immensely thankful for the work of fire crews and some even showed a sign of appreciation with gifts as they returned home.
For crew members like Dale Nelson, who's been working on the emergency management team since Sunday, the evacuation lift brings a sign of optimism.
"We're not completely out of the forest as far the fire goes, but we'll keep an eye on it, and people is the main concern around here," said Nelson with the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. He also wanted to remind residents to stay prepared.
"It's kind of a wake up to make sure that's one of our priorities," former evacuee Dan Brister said.
"I'll be a lot more prepared now," De-Alva said.
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation officials say that while fire crews will be on the scene for several more days. No homes are currently threatened by the Firestone Flats Fire.