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HAMILTON — Incident commanders and the Ravalli County sheriff on Sunday lifted the Stage 2 evacuation notice for residents near the Sawtooth fire, which has burned 4,707 acres west of Hamilton.

A Stage 1 evacuation alert and warning will remain in place, including for areas previously designated as Stage 2. Officials said the Stage 1 alert remains necessary to protect public health and safety, and will be in place “as long as the fire remains active and there is a risk to the public.”

“There is still significant risk from this fire,” fire information officer Paula Short said.

“Residents are urged to consider not returning large livestock or large trailers or other vehicles that may make access for firefighting difficult.”

A Stage 1 alert/warning means that there is a probability of the need to evacuate.

Residents are responsible to make arrangements to move property and livestock. Residents with special health needs or other concerns should relocate during this stage of evacuation.

Sheriff’s deputies will still maintain roadblocks to limit traffic to local residents only on Owings Creek Road and Westside Road, between the junction with Owings Creek Road, and the intersection with Roaring Lion Road.

Short said weather at the fire “continues to be cool at night with frost in the area but the days are expected to warm back up to the 80s by next weekend. Winds are expected to stay light over the fire for the next few days.”

Humidities will be low and there is still active fire on portions of the fire perimeter. The fire is burning in continuous stands of mixed conifer with an understory of subalpine fir.

On Sunday, firefighters assigned to the Sawtooth fire will focus on structure protection along the eastern boundary of the fire, as well as fireline construction and air operations on the northern and southern edges. The goal is to keep the fire from expanding into south Roaring Lion, or to the north into Barley Creek.

So far, Short said, “those efforts have been successful, and a favorable weather forecast for the next 3-5 days should aid that effort.”

Short also issued an advisory clarifying for any Bitterroot Valley residents who might be confused that the large Mustang fire - burning to the south of Darby, mostly in Idaho - has not burned into the Sawtooth fire. Those fires remains many miles distant from one another.

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