Fire crews worked through Sunday night and Monday morning digging firelines with dozers and handtools from Roaring Lion Canyon to the Whispering Pines area south.

The firefighters are working to save a large number of homes near the Roaring Lion forest fires. Stage 2 evacuations extend both north and south of the Roaring Lion and Sawtooth Canyons. Bitterroot National Forest Fire Management Officer Mark Wilson brought the Ravalli County Commissioners up to date on the fire situation Monday morning. He said the dozer lines and hand lines will be strengthened today, in anticipation of a strong wind event forecast for Tuesday.

He said erratic winds kept the air tankers from dropping much retardant yesterday, though there were a few late afternoon drops. He said the helicopters were busy Sunday assisting firefighters on the ground in protecting homes.

He said there were three hotshot crews on the fire, which is estimated at about 2,000 acres. A Type One Forest Service Incident Management team will be briefed on the fire today.

Wilson said the fire started Sunday afternoon along the Roaring Lion trail about a mile from the trail head. Cause of the fire is under investigation. By the time a helicopter arrived to dump water, the fire was already an acre in size. When Hamilton volunteer firemen arrived, the fire had blown up and evacuations started immediately.

Monday, US 93 reopened south of Hamilton, allowing travelers through at 45 miles per hour. No stopping is allowed while driving through the fire zone. Fire traffic has priority.

Some houses have burned, according to firefighters on the scene, but no total has been released.

The inferno of the first day of Roaring Lion fire. (Mike Daniels photo, Townsquare Media)