At noon on Thursday, Ravalli County officials ordered homes adjacent to the Lolo Peak Fire to be evacuated due to the rapid expansion of the blaze.

Sheriff Steve Holton said the evacuations were ordered after a meeting with fire managers and county officials.

"Starting last night, we did evacuation warnings in the Tie Chute drainage area," Holton said. "However, starting now and effective immediately, those warnings have now become evacuation orders. Right now, we have deputies doing door-to-door contacts. We're asking people not to take very long, just to grab the things they need and get out of that area."

Holton said evacuees need to be aware of traffic on Highway 93.

"There's starting to be a real increase in fire traffic," he said. "We're asking people to drive safely. The evacuation order area is the north side of Tie Chute Lane all the way north into Missoula County, and everything west of Highway 93. We have about six different teams of law enforcement trying to talk to people individually. Then south from there, we have extended our evacuation warning area for the south side of Tie Chute all the way to Bass Creek on the south, and everything west of Highway 93."

Holton said the Lolo Peak Fire has been following a predictable pattern.

"This is pretty much what everybody thought would happen, but the good news is there are very well-laid plans," he continued. "In my over 20 years of law enforcement here, I've never seen such well-detailed plans laid out ahead of time. The other real good news for me is that Greg Poncin's Type One Incident Management Team is back. They're the ones that really started on this fire and they built the plan. They were gone for a couple of weeks, but they're back, and they're enacting the plans that they built."

According to Inciweb, the fire now stands at just under 15,100 acres, with over 500 personnel on the scene. The Greg Poncin Incident Management Team took over the fire at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Holton said evacuees should check in at the Forest Service trailer set up at the intersection of U.S. 93 and U.S. 12 in Lolo. The official evacuation center is the University Congregational Church at 405 University Avenue.


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