The Latest: Evacuation orders downgraded on Montana fire
Posted September 10
HELENA, Mont. — The Latest on Montana wildfires (all times local):
Missoula County officials have downgraded some evacuation orders to evacuation warnings in the Seeley Lake area.
Residents of six homes still remain under an evacuation warning due to a lightning-caused fire that started on July 24 and has since burned 207 square miles (537 square kilometers), led to the temporary evacuation of hundreds of residences, caused hazardous air quality for weeks and delayed the start of school.
The air quality in Seeley Lake was moderate for much of Sunday.
Seeley-Swan High School students began their school year last week at an upscale resort. Elementary students are scheduled to start classes on Monday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster assistance for three large western Montana wildfires.
FEMA funding is available to pay 75 percent of the state's eligible firefighting costs for fires near Lincoln, Seeley Lake and Libby. The grants can help with expenses for fire camps, equipment, tools, materials and supplies. They do not help individual home or business owners or infrastructure damage.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock met with FEMA administrator Brock Long on Thursday and asked him to exempt Montana from some of the requirements to qualify for fire management assistance grants and to expedite the state's grant requests when they were filed. Montana's Congressional delegation also requested the funding.
FEMA earlier approved grants for fighting fires in eastern Montana and one near Lolo after initially denying the request.
Montana has spent more than $50 million on fire suppression since early July.