Fire near Holter Lake grows to 3,500 acres, homes evacuated
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A fire that started near some RV campers on Holter Lake north of Helena has burned about 3,500 acres and an evacuation order has been issued for about 125 homes. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said he ordered the evacuations of all homes and campgrounds along Beartooth Road at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. He said many of the residences are vacation homes and were unoccupied. About 40 homes were evacuated and only a handful of residents decided to stay. The Indian Trail fire, which started near the Indian Trail campground Wednesday, has burned some RV trailers and forced the closure of the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area. “The winds have died down right now, which is a godsend,” Dutton said late Thursday night. “Otherwise we would be in quite a battle.” The sheriff said the blaze was “creeping” down a steep slope and had burned to within 200 yards of some structures. “The potential of it taking off and getting into these homes was substantial,” he said. Fire information officer Brian LaMoure said a specialized management crew would take over the fire this morning. Three air tankers dropped retardant on the blaze Thursday while several helicopters with buckets drew water from the lake. Crews have been pulled off the blaze until today. The fire, which is the largest in the state so far this season, is burning on private land, including rugged, wooded areas. The next biggest in Montana is the Kootenai Creek fire in the Bitterroot National Forest west of Stevensville. It has burned 2,825 acres.