Mandatory evacuations were issued yesterday afternoon in the town of Essex as the Sheep Fire overwhelms Flathead County.

"They had a fire management action plan in place and so the fire has reached one of those points of the management action plan," Public Information Officer Jennifer Rankosky said. "When the fire reached that point, [officials] were going to issue mandatory evacuations for the Essex area."

Rankosky said 106 homes were contacted with pre-evacuation notices.

"The Red Cross is setting up a shelter at the West Glacier Elementary School at 160 Old River Bridge Road in West Glacier. Their phone number that people can get a hold of 1-800-272-6668," Rankosky said. "Highway 2 is still open with pilot cars, so we are still allowing traffic to go through, and the railway is still running at this time."

Although Highway 2 is still open, Rankosky said travelers should be prepared for the possibility of its closure.

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