Montana- A great fire started Sunday in Hamilton and continues to grow despite firefighters efforts. Around 500 houses have been evacuated, and 14 houses have been burnt. The fire is called the “Roaring Lion fire” because it started near the Roaring Lion Road South Hamilton. Officials had to close U.S. Highway 93 but on Monday was reopened.
On Monday Morning officials reported that the blaze destroyed 12 houses, and Highway 93 is currently fully open, although drivers must reduce speed in the area of the fire.
Fire officials have listed the fire at 2 thousand acres, and firefighters have needed five helicopters, an air tanker, and three bulldozers to control the fast-growing fire. Sunday night, firefighters did their best to protect the 500 homes located in the evacuation zones. Propane tanks exploded through the evening due to the high temperatures provoked by the blaze.
Officials believe someone caused the fire
The Roaring Lion Fire started on Sunday at 02:00 p.m. and people surrounding the Roaring Lion Road had to flee their houses. Around 06:00 p.m. Ravalli County Sheriff’s asked residents from Owings Creek to Westside Road to Wyant Lane to get ready to evacuate because of the high chances of the fire spreading to those areas.
The fire was heading the Roaring Lion Road in the Bitterroot National Forest and down the canyon.
Bitterroot National Forest spokesman, Tod Mckay, told the Missoulian newspaper that they were trying to get people out of the danger zone. He said that houses could be rebuilt, but people could.
Highway 93 was closed south of Hamilton due to the fire, and the Red Cross set up a shelter at the First Baptist Church in Hamilton on the corner of Lewis and Cooper Lane to protect those who had to leave their homes.
Conservatives estimated that the fire was growing at a rate of 200 acres per hour, and due to the downslope winds, it was going right down the valley racing through the foothills southwest Hamilton, CBS News reports.
Later in the evening, another Red Cross shelter was set, this time at The River Church at 354 Cooper Lane.
Animals have been evacuated as well, and the Bitterroot Human Society is taking care of them. The Bitterroot Humane Society is sheltering evacuees and animals.
At 06:40 p.m. the Roaring Lion Fire became the highest priority, and a Type 1 Incident Management Team was called to the fight the wildland fire. Type 1 teams are the most trained and experienced personnel of the firefighter force.
Sheriff, Chris Hoffman from the Ravalli County, told the Missoulian that the blaze consumed structures in the Judd Creek area. Hoffman reported that a person received CPR in the Owens Creek area. He believes the fire provoked the health emergency.
One victim from the blaze, Pamela Caughey, said the fire started at 03:00 p.m. Sunday. Caughey lived on the Roaring Lion Road and had to evacuate, and she thinks her house along with those of her neighbors are gone.
— Bitterroot Cyclists (@bitbackcyc) August 1, 2016
Source: NBC Montana