The Boulder 2700 fire east of Polson has burned 1,844 acres as of Thursday, and some evacuations remain in effect along Montana Highway 35.
The fire has destroyed eight primary structures and damaged 15 secondary structures. There are 257 personnel assigned to the fire; the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
Governor Greg Gianforte received an update on firefighting efforts on Thursday, visiting the fire camp in Ronan and the Red Cross shelter in Polson.
Leaders of the Type 2 Fire Team that assumed command earlier this week told Gianforte there's still a lot of work to be done before they can say they have any containment on the fire.
Brett Pargman, the Operations Section Chief with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team, explained how fire crews are working to get ahead of the fire on both the southern and northern flanks. Part of that strategy is to use the Boulder Creek drainage to try and contain the fire.
Re-entry permits are being issued for residents of Finley Point to Mahood Lane at both the checkpoint at mile marker 2 on Highway 35 and at the Linderman School in Polson. Lake County deputies will provide a tag that will allow residents to return home. People are asked to bring proof of residence such as a driver’s license. Residents who return home are being advised to be ready to leave at any time.
Lake County Sheriff Don Bell reported Thursday morning that 450 of the 500 residents evacuated over the weekend due to the fire have been able to return home.
Highway 35 remains closed in both directions from the intersection with US Highway 93 in Polson to the Blue Bay area at mile marker 15.
The fire was active on the southeast side on Wednesday, moving upslope along the ridge. The eastern side of the fire was also actively burning upslope. Fire managers say most of the visible smoke was coming from the eastern side of the fire.