‘Homes Did Burn’ as Roaring Lion Fire Expands to Largest Montana Fire this Year
UPDATE - 3:30 p.m. Monday, August 1
There will be a public information meeting for the Roaring Lion Fire on Monday August 1, at 7:00pm at the First Interstate Building at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds at 100 Old Corvallis Road, in Hamilton.
In less than 24 hours, the Roaring Lion Fire near Hamilton exploded to over 3,500 acres and is now the largest blaze Montana has seen in 2016. According to Bitterroot National Forest Public Affairs Officer Todd McKay, it's a miracle that no one was injured and a lot of good work has occurred over night.
"The good news is that we got a lot of the eastern side of the fire, where the homes and the private property are," McKay said. We built containment lines around that eastern edge both with bulldozers and with hand crews digging line. Crews were also able to put out a lot of spot fires around structures last night, cooler temperatures really helped us."
McKay said firefighters were weary after working through the night and thick smoke made aerial attacks impossible Monday morning. When helicopters could drop water on the fire, it was growing too fast to have much of an impact.
"Every time our helicopters would go back to drop another bucket on the fire, the fire had doubled in size," McKay said. We had a very extreme fire day. It grew so rapidly, so quickly. We have confirmed that homes did burn, but we are still trying to confirm numbers and locations."
McKay says the source of the fire appears to be about a mile up from the Roaring Lion trail head. Because of a lack of lightning in the area, many have presumed that hikers may have started the fire, but McKay says fire investigators have not settled on an exact cause.