Currently, there are more than 1,200 homes being threatened by the Lolo Creek Complex fires. All day today, Wednesday, August 21, sheriff’s deputies were handing out protection warning notices to those living north of Highway 12 and west of Highway 93.

Photo courtesy of Missoula County Sheriff's Department

Incident management team spokesman Mike Cole explains

"This fire has been moving so fast the last few days that the sheriff's department has not had time to go through the normal stages of evacuation. So, they are sending out this protection warning, which is a pre-evacuation. If it got to the point where there would be an evacuation, they would send a slow moving vehicle with a siren on it through the neighborhood notifying people that they need to evacuate right away."

The notices include an emergency contact number, along with information and instructions for escaping a sudden expansion of the fire. The evacuation warning will also be broadcast via television and radio through the Emergency Alert System.

Cole said that the fire has been expanding rapidly in the afternoons between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. after the inversion lifts. He also said the Lolo Creek Complex is one of the fastest moving fires seen in recent memory in this part of the state.