The Ravalli County Commission declared a state of emergency Wednesday due to the fire situation in the valley.

The five commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday morning to issue the Emergency Proclamation, which allows the Ravalli County Sheriff's Office or other law officers working under its authority to direct and compel any evacuations.

They are reacting to the growing Observation Fire southwest of Hamilton on the Bitterroot National Forest. It was over 600 acres Wednesday morning.

Currently, about 200 homes in the Lost Horse Canyon and north to Gold Greek Loop along the west side of Highway 93 are under Stage 1 Evacuation orders. Stage 1 is a warning level that advises residents to be prepared for possible evacuation. Stage 2 is an actual evacuation.

Ravalli County Undersheriff Steve Holton said officers went door-to-door Tuesday evening issuing the Stage 1 warnings.

The fire danger on the Bitterroot National Forest is now "High." The county commission is expected to close open burning Thursday, June 30. Open burning has already been closed in Missoula County.