It was a pretty good weekend for firefighting in the Bitterroot National Forest. Type I Incident Management Team Fire Information Officer Mike Cole has an update on the Roaring Lion Fire near Hamilton.

“Probably the best thing that happened was [Sunday] night, the Sheriff’s Office lifted the stage two evacuations and went back to stage one on the last 18 residences on the southeastern corner of the fire around Hays Creek Road,” Cole said. “And that was a big welcome home back for those folks to get in their houses […] Now folks just need to be paying attention to the fire.”

Cole said the fire has been calming down with the recent weather with wet, cool temps on the way.

“It’s going to be in the 80s today so we’re going to be able to get a lot done today. There’s a chance of few isolated thunderstorms late in the afternoon, but they may not come over us. Then tomorrow is going to be a total change in the weather,” Cole said. “Probably where the firefighters are going to be working is going to be in the 60s.”

As of Monday morning, Cole said he’s already sending fire management team members to other fires across the country.

“On the lines we’re pulling hose in some areas, finishing our mop up. We still have probably two days’ worth of work to do in the Camas Creek Drainage. That continues to be the area of most concern,” Cole said. “The fire is still at 8,262 acres and 30 percent contained. We’re down to about 724 personnel around the fire and that will continue to drop. So this is looking good. I think that by the week, people in the valley are going to be back fairly back to normal compared to what it was.”

Cole said the fire will continue to be monitored, especially in the higher elevations throughout the summer.

“It’s a little over $6 million right now. We won’t have all of our costs in until this whole thing is wrapped up, but it’s an expensive fire. $6 million is a lot more money than I’ve ever seen,” Cole said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.


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