Everyone who was evacuated due to the 29,000-acre Alice Creek fire burning northeast of Lincoln was allowed to return home Thursday.
A winter weather system that moved through the area of the Alice Creek fire left measurable precipitation. Fire officials and the Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office conferred Thursday morning regarding the evacuation orders that had been issued in the preceding weeks.
"As of 12 p.m. Thursday Sept. 14, all areas that were evacuated as a result of the Alice Creek Fire will be modified to allow residents only to return to their homes and cabins," the announcement from the sheriff's office says.
The evacuations applied to residences along Highway 200, the Elk Meadows subdivision, Alice Creek, the Copper Creek/Landers Fork area, Elk Trail Loop and Heavenly Pines.
Alice Creek Road, Copper Creek Road at the Landers Fork Road junction and McDonough Road remain closed to the public.
On Friday morning another meeting will be held to re-evaluate the residents-only stipulation. In the interim, roadblocks will remain in effect to keep a log of residents coming in and out, Sheriff Leo Dutton said.
The Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest area closure order for the Alice Creek Fire remains in effect, while officials evaluate the potential for adjusting the closure area.
The 18,000-acre Park Creek fire burning north of Lincoln also saw steady rain Thursday.
Firefighters saw moderate activity Wednesday and expect the moisture to allow the lifting of some restrictions. Firefighters will continue to patrol the southern perimeter of the fire from Huckleberry Summit to Sucker Creek Road.
Starting Sept. 15, the Lincoln Ranger District will be reducing the emergency area closure over the Park Creek fire. Sucker Creek Road (1800) and Copper Creek Road (330) will be opened, but Beaver Creek Road (4106) over Huckleberry Summit to the Forest Boundary and Park Creek Road (607) will remain closed for public and firefighter safety.
There are no evacuations at this time for the Park Creek fire.
Although the Lincoln area is receiving precipitation, the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest remains in the amended Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, which include a ban on all campfires. Smoking is prohibited outside of buildings, vehicles and developed recreation sites, unless you are in a 3-foot-diameter area cleared of all burnable vegetation.
"These restrictions will be reviewed by state, county and federal officials when they feel fire danger is no longer a threat for both private and public lands," the Forest Service said.