UPDATE - 7:00 p.m. Sunday, July 31

Mary Williams, Public Information Assistant for Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman, said over 500 homes have been evacuated so far due to the Roaring Lion Fire expanding rapidly just south of Hamilton.

"There are a minimum of 500 homes that are under an evacuation order," Williams said. "They skipped Stage One and went right to Stage Two. They're telling everybody to just get out. This is not a preliminary evacuation, this is an evacuation order. Those evacuation notices are being handled  by the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office, the Stevensville Police Department and the Hamilton Police Department."

Williams said traffic is being detoured around the area.

"Traffic is being detoured from Highway 93 at Skalkaho Road, and from the south onto Old Darby Road. Sheriff Hoffman is also asking non-residents to stay away from the area, to keep the roads clear for emergency and firefighting vehicles. Williams also said the fire has exploded to over 1,800 acres, and Sheriff Hoffman has extended Stage Two evacuations as far south as Lost Horse Road. I was here for the fires of 2000, and this is just as impressive."

UPDATE : 6:05 p.m Sunday, July 31

Stage One notification area added to Owings Creek to Westside Road west to Wyant Lane. This area is in Stage One notification at this time. High probability of the need to evacuate. NBC Montana reports that Highway 93 south of Hamilton is now closed.

UPDATE; 6:00 p.m. Sunday, July 31

Stage Two evacuations are now including Hayes Creek. The full evacuation area is the west side of Owings Creek to Hayes Creek. Stage Two evacuations are necessary in order to protect the lives of area residents.

UPDATE 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31

The Ravalli County Emergency Operations Center is now open. Call 375-6650 for information on evacuation, evacuation shelters and livestock emergency placement.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m. Sunday, July 31

Stage Two evacuations now include Owings Creek south to Roaring Lion and Gold Creek Loop to Camas Creek Loop. by order of Ravalli County Sheriff due to increasing fire danger.

UPDATE; 4:30 P.M. Sunday, July 31

The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office says the Red Cross has set up a shelter at the River  Church in Hamilton, at the corner of Lewis and Cooper Lane. The Ravalli County Fairgrounds are available for livestock, gates are open, self-serve.

UPDATE; 4:00 p.m. Sunday, July 31

From the Ravalli County Sheriff---

Stage Two evacuation is now updated to include Lupine Ridge, Two Horse Lane, Highland Drive and North Gold Creek Loop as well as all of Roaring Lion Road, in order to protect lives. 

KGVO News received word on Sunday afternoon that the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office has issued a State Two Evacuation for all the Roaring Lion Road south of Hamilton, due to the Roaring Lion Fire.

Officials say the fire sprang to life early Sunday and has mushroomed to over 500 acres, putting heavy smoke into the atmosphere. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Sheriff Chris Hoffman said that the evacuations are necessary in order to protect the lives of area occupants and also of emergency personnel.

We'll have more details when they become available.