A new fire burning in the Bitterroot National Forest has caused the evacuation of over 65 homes.

Spokesman Todd McKay said the Nelson Creek Fire was discovered on Monday and grew rapidly to the point where homes were threatened.

"The Nelson Creek Fire was discovered yesterday afternoon at about three o'clock in the afternoon by our fire lookout on the West Fork," said McKay. "It grew to over 20 acres in the the first hour and we started diverting resources there, including helicopters. We had four helicopters doing bucket work all throughout the afternoon. We had firefighters working on it last night and it's currently at about 80 acres."

McKay said the start of the fire was tracked to about 500 yards from the trailhead, and is still under investigation.

At that point, Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton determined that evacuations were necessary.

"Last evening at about nine o'clock in a conference call with the  forest fire management  officer for the West Fork, the county Fire Warden,  and the West Fork Fire Chief, we decided that evacuation warnings were necessary," Holton said. "This morning it had grown to about 80 acres and had approached homes in the wildland urban interface and we made the warnings an order. That's the entire area on Nez Perce Road, every home has been ordered to evacuate."

Holton said the Meyers Fire has also caused concern in the Bitterroot, leading to evacuation warnings to about 250 residents.

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