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Crews almost done with Essex fire break against Sheep Fire

A helicopter navigates through smoke at the Thompson Divide Complex Saturday- Jonathan Moor photo(ESSEX)- Fire crews have nearly completed construction of a fire break around the small community of Essex, in an effort to save the town from burning because of the stubborn Sheep Fire.

Meanwhile, evacuations for area residents remain in place, and U.S. 2 remains closed to through traffic around the southern end of Glacier National Park. 

The Sheep Fire was slowed somewhat Saturday by heavy smoke that blanketed the area. Still, it has burned over 1500 acres and continues to threaten more than 200 structures in Essex, as well the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad line. None of the fire has been contained as of Saturday evening. 

Smoke also limited helicopter water drops Saturday, but the cold front that moved through the Northern Rockies didn't produce the strong winds that firefighters had been worried about. Evacuees are being sheltered in West Glacier. 

Meanwhile, the other fires in the Thompson Divide Complex continue to burn. There's no containment on the 700-acre Granite Fire. However, the first fire in the complex, the Thompson Fire, burning in the Nyack backcountry, is now 20% contained. 

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