Residents nervously watch progress of the Lolo Creek Complex fire
Residents of Sleeman Gulch, a few miles east of the Lolo Creek Complex fire off Highway 12, have been placed on pre-evacuation notice - meaning they need to be ready to leave on the spur of the moment. Sleeman road is a one-way-in, one-way-out gravel road.
Kirk Derby lives near the end of the road, in a house he and his wife just bought a year ago. Last night they left to wait out the fire in town, but returned today to clear more stuff from their house.
"One thing we realized yesterday is what's most important to us... to take out of the house," said Derby. "Computers, photographs."
Rob McDonough has lived on Sleeman road for 20 years. He's lived through the fires of 2000 and 20003 - but he says this year seems different.
"I think this is a little worse because conditions are drier - and we' ve had a lot of soot and embers coming down around the house - and that's the concern here because everything is so dry."
Noted author James Lee Burke is also a longtime resident. He was moving his two Tennesse walking horses out of his place on Sleeman today, just in case. Burke says climate change is making our fire seasons
"I'm from Louisiana-average rainfall in the state of Louisiana in 1950 was 90 inches a year," said Burke."Today it's about 30 inches. How does anyone argue with the conclusion that kind of statistic leads us to?"
There is a community meeting on the Lolo Creek Complex tonight at 5:30 in the lower gym of the Lolo school. We'll have a live report from there, plus more reaction from residents, tonight during Montana Evening Edition.