The spread of the Roaring Lion Fire slows

(UPDATED at 5:32 p.m. MDT August 4, 2016)

This time-lapse video shows the start of the Roaring Lion Fire and how quickly it grew to become a massive fire in about three hours. It was recorded by Jeff Kempka.

Roaring Lion fire map
The Roaring Lion Fire, outlined in red, is burning in an area where many other fires have occurred in the last 30 years.

The Roaring Lion fire southwest of Hamilton, Montana did not spread as much Wednesday as on previous days. The latest mapping shows it at 7,752 acres, an increase of 622 acres, with most of that growth being on the south side.

Below is an excerpt from a release by the incident management team Thursday morning:

In the Sawtooth drainage crews are constructing hand line to reduce the possibility of fire spread to the north. From Roaring Lion Road to the Whispering Pine area, crews continue to mop up and extinguish any hot spots. Hotshot crews are working close to the fire’s edge and building hand line above Camas Creek toward Gold Creek. From Camas Creek to Hayes Creek line is being constructed toward the Observation fire area.

Heavy equipment continues to improve contingency lines should the fire continue to spread to the south. Rapid Response teams comprised of engines, dozers and water tenders are staged for initial attack on any new fire starts in residential areas. Air support continues to work hot spots and hot areas of the fire. Firefighters are working around the clock to take advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity today.

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(UPDATED at 8:50 a.m. MDT August 3, 2016)

The Roaring Lion Fire four miles southwest of Hamilton, Montana was very active Tuesday night under the influence of strong winds from the north and northwest. Sustained at 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 50, the wind pushed the fire another mile and a half to the south into the Ward Creek drainage. The fire also grew on the north side. The winds were strongest from 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday until midnight.

Resources assigned to the fire include 9 helicopters and 524 personnel. Single engine and large air tankers are available as needed, but their use was hampered Tuesday by smoke.

3-D Map Roaring Lion Fire
3-D Map of the Roaring Lion Fire looking west. The white line was the perimeter at 7 p.m. on August 1. The red line was the perimeter at 2 a.m. on August 3, while the red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:06 am August 3, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The number of homes burned remains at 14. Approximately 50 outbuildings have been destroyed.

About 800 homes are under evacuation orders to either be ready to leave immediately, or to leave now.

One elderly gentleman died as a result of a medical condition during the evacuation.

Over the last 24 hours the fire grew by 2,700 acres to bring the total to 7,130 acres.

US Highway 93 was closed for five hours on Tuesday when smoke reduced the visibility.

Below is a report from KTMF/KWYB just after the Wednesday morning briefing.

The weather forecast for Wednesday predicts much cooler temperatures and higher humidity — 76 degrees and 24 percent (compared to 90 degrees and 17 percent on Tuesday). But the wind will be strong out of the west, at 16 mph gusting to 23.

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(UPDATED at 6:25 p.m. MDT August 2, 2016)

Map Roaring Lion Fire
3-D map of the Roaring Lion Fire looking west at 2:30 a.m. MDT August 2, 2016. The terrain goes from 3,600 feet to over 8,000 feet in elevation.

The strongest winds we wrote about earlier are expected to be at their peak from about 6 p.m. until midnight tonight, gusting at 32 to 38 mph from the northwest.


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(Originally published at 7:45 a.m. MDT August 2, 2016)

The Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the Roaring Lion Fire has destroyed at least 14 homes in the Bitterroot National Forest four air miles southwest of Hamilton, Montana. Since starting Sunday afternoon the blaze had burned approximately 4,400 acres as of 7 p.m. on Monday, growing by about 900 acres over the previous 24 hours. The additional fire spread was primarily on the west and northwest sides.

Roaring Lion Fire map
The red line was the perimeter of the Roaring Lion Fire at 7 p.m. MDT August 1. The red squares represent heat detected by a satellite about 8 hours later at 2:45 a.m. MDT August 2, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The weather on Monday was relatively mild, with temperatures reaching the high 80s and winds of 1 to 7 mph. That will change Tuesday afternoon with a Red Flag Warning affecting the area. The forecast is for 16 to 22 mph west and northwest winds gusting up to 31 mph along with relative humidities in the lower teens. This will test any control lines firefighters have established on the east side of the fire — the area with the highest concentration of structures.

map Roaring Lion Fire
Map of the Roaring Lion Fire at 3:07 a.m. August 1, 2016.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

3 thoughts on “The spread of the Roaring Lion Fire slows”

  1. I wonder what impact the planned Westside Collaborative Vegetation Management Project (http://data.ecosystem-management.org/nepaweb/nepa_project_exp.php?project=47641) that looks like it was planned to be implemented exactly where this fire started would have potentially had on protecting the homes and life lost. I also wonder if it would have already been implemented without legal challenges (http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/IndyBlog/archives/2016/07/27/landowner-seeks-injunction-against-the-bitterroot-national-forests-westside-management-project). Given the weather conditions they had on Sunday that is a lot of “What ifs” but I think the USFS needs to do a better job of laying those out when they are challenged at every turn for trying to do their job.

    1. News report says the life was lost due to a cardiac event during the evacuation. Likely would have had evacuations even if the timer stands had been treated before the fire.

      1. Bruce was my brother with heart issues yes, but due to careless humans the fire did kill him as the strain of evacuation was too much.

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