Updated 6:30 p.m.
Encouraging news from Lolo Peak Fire spokesman Mark Struble: Now that the cold front has passed through western Montana, the winds have significantly abated, a little bit of rain fell and relative humidity spiked up to about 50-percent for a while.
He says early indications suggest none of the prime containment lines were breached earlier today and aircraft are now punching the fire hard with water and retardant drops.
Despite this welcome turn of events, the pending evacuation order, warning and previously announced closure of Highway 12 all remain in effect at this hour.
In other news, lightning from last night resulted in more fires being detected on the Kalispell, Plains, Swan and Libby Units of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. It is now estimated that there have been 34 new fires since Friday evening, with a Red Flag Warning still in effect till 9 p.m. tonight.
The two largest fires currently under DNRC fire protection are the Peoples Creek Fire that is now estimated to be 100 acres and the Tamarack Fire estimated at 300 acres. Both fires are currently under the management of the DNRC Libby Unit; however, a Type III team is scheduled to take over management of the People’s Creek Fire today with a Type II team coming in tomorrow to manage the Tamarack Fire.
The mandatory evacuation announced earlier continues. There is now a new evacuation warning for the Lolo Peak Fire. Because of rapidly changing changing fire activity 140 additional residences are being put on an evacuation warning. This is not an order. This area includes Fort Fizzle to Balsam Root Road on both sides of Highway 12. Residents on Morman Creek Road past Vann Drive and those on Vann Drive, are also under an evacuation warning at this time.
These residents should prepare for a short order evacuation. Start planning and consider signing up for Smart911. Please Note: Highway 12 from mile marker 16 to mile marker 30 has been closed because the fire weather. Roads are closed to any through traffic. Please be mindful that other homes in your area are in an evacuation order and have been instructed to immediately leave the area.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office has issued a mandatory evacuation order for residents affected by the Lolo Peak Fire:
"The Missoula County Sheriff's office has issued an immediate evacuation order due to an immediate fire threat. Residents in affected areas are ordered to immediately leave!Orders are in place for approximately 160 homes on both the north and south sides of Highway 12, starting at mile marker 16 (Bear Creak area) and extending to Fort Fizzle. Deputies will be going door-to-door making contact with residents in the area. If you leave before deputies are able to make contact, please check in at Ropers Lounge where we have an evacuation check point set up. The Red Cross will open a shelter at the Florence Carlton Community Church on old US Highway 93 at 1 p.m. today. For animal sheltering call Animal Control at 541-7387 and leave a message. For more information on evacuations call the Fire Information Line at 258-4636. For more on fire activity please call 272-5433."