Fire crews on Sunday took a look at possible structure protection near Lolo Pass as a weekend wildfire continues to grow and evacuation warnings remain in place.
And with other fires burning across the Lolo and Bitterroot national forests, and dry conditions expected to last, Missoula County on Tuesday is expected to sign a proclamation declaring a fire emergency.
The Lolo Creek fire grew to roughly 12 acres by Sunday and is burning in dead and downed timber near the Montana-Idaho border on Lolo Pass. Smoke is visible from the Lolo Pass Visitor Center and Highway 12.
On Sunday, fire crews conducted structure protection assessments but said no structures were immediately threatened. However, that could change depending upon fire activity and wind patterns.
If weather and visibility allow, air resources remain available, according to officials.
Fire managers also are evaluating the need for expanded closures in the area that would include the existing BM Hill Fire closures, along with closures west and north of Highway 12.
“We are working in close coordination with the Powell Ranger District given the proximity of these two fires and the critical fire weather conditions that are predicted throughout the day,” said fire spokesperson Kate Jerman. “Existing forest road and trail closures are in place on the Missoula Ranger District and we are asking the public to avoid these areas.”
The BM Hill Fire and the Lolo Creek Fire are burning within two miles of one another. The BM Hill Fire is currently burning on the Powell Ranger District of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests in Idaho with spread toward the northeast, toward the Missoula Ranger District in Montana.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday issued an emergency notice for the area. People traveling along Highway 12 are being asked not to stop in the area.