The Ravalli County Sheriff's Office has been notifying about 50 residences in the West Fork drainage that they are under Stage 1 Evacuation orders because of the 21,000 acre Saddle Fire.
Stage 1 is a warning to homeowners to prepare to leave as quickly as possible should an evacuation be necessary. Stage 2 is an immediate evacuation order.
The forest fire grew from 18,000 acres yesterday with wind fanning the flames. There were short uphill runs as it grew mainly to the northeast.
The Saddle Fire is expected to grow with more winds forecast. The blaze started in Idaho and has moved into the West Fork of the Bitterroot National Forest. The roads and trails south of Hughes Creek have been closed for public safety.
There are 4 helicopters, 11 engines and 174 people assigned to the fire. The lightning-caused fire has burned over 9,600 acres in Idaho's Salmon-Challis National Forest and 11,500 acres in Montana on the Bitterroot National Forest.
Thursday morning, a Type 2 Incident Management Team and the Painted Rocks Fire Department took over management of the Montana side of the fire.
A US Forest Service Firewise trailer has been set up at Painted Rocks Reservoir, farther to the north. There, people can get additional information on the fire.
On the Salmon-Challis National Forest, more lightning strikes were noted Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Resulting fires are being attacked.