Roaring Lion Fire Now Nearly 2,000 Acres – 500 Homes Evacuated – Some Structures Lost – Bitterroot National Forest Spokesman ‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It’
Bitterroot National Forest Spokesman Tod McKay told KGVO News on Sunday evening just before 9:00 o'clock that there has been no lightning in the area of the fast-moving Roaring Lion Fire in the several days, so the cause of the fire is under investigation.
The fire is now estimated at over 2,000 acres in less than 12 hours. McKay said this fire is unprecedented in his memory.
""I've never seen anything like it in my many years with the Bitterroot National Forest," McKay said. "This fire started at about 2:30 about a mile up the Roaring Lion Trailhead, which is where the initial call came in. Man, by the time our fire crews got to the scene the fire had already raced down the face of that mountain and was headed towards private property very quickly. I've talked to homeowners who said we had 200 foot flames coming off those trees. This thing really blew up, and I've never seen anything like it in the years that I've been here."
McKay said authorities have been racing against time to get nearby residents to safety.
"Our priority all day has been public and firefighter safety," he said. "The sheriff's department has done an outstanding job going home to home getting folks out quickly. The good news to report to night is that right now, that there have been no injuries to this point. However, the sheriff's office reports that multiple structures have been involved, I don't know how many or where."
McKay detailed the response by firefighters so far.
"We've got five helicopters in the air doing bucket drops, we've had heavy air tankers all day doing retardant work, we've got three hot-shot crews on the ground, we've got engines from every fire department in the valley here and these crews are in dangerous terrain, especially working around homes," McKay continued. "Where I am, we've been hearing propane tanks exploding throughout the afternoon. They're going to work through the evening, and we have a Type One Incident management team on the way, and they will be here on Monday morning, and we're doing everything we can, but this has been a really rough day."
McKay, Like Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman, is asking non-residents to stay away from the fire area, to stay out of the way of emergency vehicles.
"It's a big area now on both sides of Roaring Lion and there are lot of people who are concerned and affected by this. and we're just trying to manage this area to keep it as safe as possible for everyone involved," he said.
Get more details by visiting our website and KLYQ's reports from Steve Fullerton in Hamilton, and download the Ravalli County Sheriff's Department app for instant updates.