HAMILTON – Nearly 250 more homeowners were told Tuesday that they needed to evacuate due to a potential wind event on the Roaring Lion fire that could create extreme behavior.
“We wanted to give people a lot more notice than they had Sunday night,” said Ravalli County Undersheriff Steve Holton.
The new area under the Stage 2 mandatory evacuation notice includes Wyant Lane south to Camas Creek.
The total number of homes under orders to evacuate is 741.
People living in the area north of Wyant Lane to Blodgett Camp Road, including North Canyon Drive and Canyon Creek Road, were placed under a Stage 1 evacuation alert, which asks homeowners to prepare to evacuate with short notice.
By late afternoon, winds at the ridge tops were blowing at a steady 30 to 40 mph, said Forest Officer Fire Information Officer Penny Bertram.
“So far, the fire is doing everything that the fire behaviorists said it would and the weather is doing everything they said it would,” Bertram said. “That’s not good.”
Bertram is a member of the Type 1 team that took over management of the 4,392-acre fire Monday night.
“It’s been pretty amazing to see what they have been able to accomplish in a short period of time,” Bertram said. “They have some really good alternative plans in case things go belly up. They know where they can punch in some lines quickly if they need to.”
“They are planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” she said.
On Tuesday, a number of new engine crews arrived to supplement the firefighters already on the front line.
There are 90 Hotshot firefighter and 60 Type 2 ground crews working on the fire. As of Tuesday morning, there were seven engines, three water tenders, nine helicopters and two dozers assigned to the fire.
The focus Tuesday was to reinforce dozer and hand lines on the north, east and south sides of the fire, while extinguishing hot spots near buildings and providing structure protection for the predicted red flag event.
Firefighters also focused on battling a large spot fire along Ward Creek on Tuesday afternoon. The spot fire burned about two miles south of Roaring Lion Road and about three miles up the creek from U.S. Highway 93.
“The crews had managed to extinguish all the spot fires from yesterday (Monday) by about noon,” Bertram said. “That was amazing considering the narrow window of flying that was available to them.”
Bertram said they have been fielding a lot of good questions from locals about the fire.
“I can’t express enough that if you’re in that area, it’s time to be very vigilant and pay attention,” she said. “You need to be aware and stay aware.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed a portion of the Bitterroot River on Tuesday morning between Wally Crawford Fishing Access Site and Angler’s Roost until further notice.
The closure to the 10-mile stretch of river was necessary due to the close proximity of the fire and unpredictable wind conditions over the next few days. Helicopters may also use this stretch of the river to dip water for firefighting efforts.
Tuesday evening, the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office announced that a detour for passenger vehicles around the Highway 93 road closure from Skalkaho Highway to Old Darby Road is available for passenger vehicles. However, the detour is off-limits to semi-truck and trailer combinations.
The Ravalli County Ministerial Association will host a short community prayer service open to everyone on Friday, Aug. 5, at St. Francis of Assisi Church at noon.
The prayer service will be to support everyone impacted by the Roaring Lion Fire, including residents, family, neighbors, emergency responders and support crews.
For more information about the prayer service, call 406-363-1385.