Posted: Jul 26, 2013 8:48 AM by MTN News
FRENCHTOWN - The Mill Creek Fire near Frenchtown held steady overnight, having burned at estimated 720 acres.
The blaze spread fast on Thursday after reportedly being ignited by the spark of a lawn mower at around 2:30 p.m., forcing voluntary evacuations.
Fire officials say 175 people are battling the fire. Crews looked to take advantage of cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity.
Voluntary evacuations on Mill Creek, Fred Lane, Bunchgrass and Grooms Road are still in effect; however, residents who must return home are being allowed to do so.
Authorities are asking that drivers observe the reduced speed limit along Interstate 90 and not to pull off roads into dry grass to watch the blaze.
The fire is burning on the fringes of the timber, but we're told the crews are doing a good job keeping it in check.
The Mill Creek Fire is reminiscent of the Black Cat Fire that burned in the same general area back in 2007, scorching 12,000 acres.
That blaze also started as a grass fire that quickly spread into the timber. It was started by lightning in August and burned into September, causing evacuations as it burned very near homes.
Fire officials say the Black Cat Fire could help firefighters this time around if the flames reach the old burn scars.