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Lolo Complex over 8,000 acres, evacuations urged for Sleeman, Mill Creek

By KECI Staff
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:40:51 AM MST
Updated On: Aug 21 2013 08:02:17 AM MDT
MISSOULA, Mont. -

The Lolo Creek Complex is now estimated at over 8,000 acres burned. Fire officials have asked residents living on Sleeman Creek Road and south of Mill Creek Road to leave, due to increased wildfire activity throughout the evening. 

Flames and a large plume of smoke were visible from downtown Missoula and throughout the valley.

The fire is moving towards Highway 12 just west of Mill Creek. Highway 12 is shut down until further notice. There will not be escorted traffic as previously reported until fire behavior is calm enough to allow it.

A fire information hotline for residents is available at (406) 258-4636.

Pre-evacuation notices have been issued for the following areas: Bear Creek, Elk Meadows, Arena Drive, Thayer Road, Mill Creek Road, Severin Meadows, Sleeman Gulch Road, Balsam Root Road, Graves Creek Road, Nez Pierce, Claims Stake, Lee Tennant Campground, Lolo Creek Campground, Chickaman Road, Lolo Creek residents between mm 25-15 have been given pre-evacuation notices.

Five homes have been confirmed destroyed.

Montana Highway Patrol ran a roadblock throughout the day. Our reporter on the scene says officers stopped vehicles and checked ID. Residents were only allowed to check their property or help neighbors.

Resident David Nelson has not evacuated, but has everything ready to go.  "Everything is packed up," said Nelson.  "All our vehicles are pointed downhill."

Evacuees can find shelter at Christ the King Church in Missoula.  For information call 258-4636.

The following is tonight's evening update from the DNRC:

Shortly after 6:30pm the Lolo Creek fire grew to the east and north and is estimated at over 8,000 acres. Fire has moved about two miles east along the north side of Highway 12 to just near the Mill Creek intersection. Fire is also moving into the top of Westerman Creek towards Sleeman Creek, onto the ridge near Woodman Saddle. The fire made a rather spectacular run but the wind has died down and the fire spread has slowed. Flames from this run are visible from Missoula but the fire is not on Blue Mountain. Firefighters are moving into areas where they can keep an eye on the fire. 

There have not been any additional structures lost; several structures along Highway 12 were saved by direct action by firefighters. 

A night shift has taken over and the plan is to hold the fire north of Highway 12, continue structure protection, and monitor the fire on the north side. 

Sleeman creek and Mill creek are currently under an evacuation notice. 

Highway 12 is closed until further notice. 

Five homes have been confirmed destroyed by the Lolo Creek Complex. Several outbuildings have been destroyed as well. As of today there have been no injuries to the public or firefighters. 

Additional information will be posted to Inciweb under the incident name Lolo Creek Complex at www.inciweb.org