HELENA — The Meagher County Sheriff's Office ordered residents of the Grassy Mountain subdivision to evacuate just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday. But the area was returned to a pre-evacuation warning just after 6:30 p.m.
Law enforcement also temporarily closed Highway 12 from the nine mile Y through Deep Creek Canyon due to fire and smoke.
According to the Broadwater County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, the highway reopened around 6:30. Motorists are urged to slow down and watch for livestock that may be on the road.
The evacuation orders and road closure came as a strong storm was moving through the area and increased fire concerns and decreased visibility.
Earlier Sunday fire managers reported that the Woods Creek and a new fire start, the Needles Fire, had burned a combined 43,000 acres.
The Woods Creek Fire is burning about 16 miles northeast of Townsend.
The Needles Fire, which was estimated at around 2,800 acres, is burning about 10 miles west of White Sulphur Springs.
Officials say the two fires have merged, but they will continue to report them as two separate fires.
Current evacuations and pre-evacuation for the Woods Creek and Needles Fires include:
Woods Creek Fire:
- A mandatory evacuation covering everything east of Highway 284 between Gravely Lane on the north and Dry Gulch Road on the south. Ray Creek is on high alert.
- A mandatory evacuation of six cabins and Big Birch Creek was put in place on Thursday.
- A pre-evacuation notice for residents on Birky Road and Ramspeck Lane.
- A pre-evacuation notice for residents in the Grassy Mountain subdivision.
According to the Meagher County Sheriff's Office an evacuation center has been set up at Trailhead Christian Fellowship Church in Townsend.
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