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Roaring Lion Fire evacuees lose their homes - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Roaring Lion Fire evacuees lose their homes

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The Roaring Lion Fire has claimed structures. (MTN News photo) The Roaring Lion Fire has claimed structures. (MTN News photo)
500 homes under evacuation orders. (MTN News photo) 500 homes under evacuation orders. (MTN News photo)
Residents rushed to flee as the blaze approached Sunday. (MTN News photo) Residents rushed to flee as the blaze approached Sunday. (MTN News photo)
HAMILTON -

It was a hectic day here on Roaring Lion Road just off of Highway 93 near Hamilton after a wildfire roared to life Sunday.

There was ash falling from the skies and fear and sadness on the faces of people being forced to evacuate from the area. They've been displaced from their homes and there are structures on fire.

There were helicopters flying around dumping water on the flames trying to extinguish them while a steady stream of fire engines and fire departments from around the Bitterroot Valley were heading into the area.

Dean Fowler is a firefighter from the Hamilton area who has a good friend with a home just a short distance up Roaring Lion Road.

"My friend lives right up the road here and we just tried to hose it down to get it wet. But the fire came too close, and they've mandatorily evacuated us out," Fowler said.

He says he enjoys the thrill of firefighting, but the thrill is quickly changed into worry when homes go up in the blaze.

"People's lives are at risk and right now all we do is say big prayers and hope the Lord can intervene. Got a lot of people here working at it hard. So, everybody comes together hoping it'll be alright. Just pray for everyone involved and all the houses and the animals. Pray for the best," he said.

Every fire department from around the valley came to help in the cause, according to Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman.

They weren't the only ones; the American Red Cross of Montana set up shop as soon as they received word of the blaze and have already received countless donations from concerned citizens.

"There are people generously donating food and water, and some of their time to help out. With fire shelters in Montana, people have friends and family they generally stay with. A lot of them don't want to impose for meals, so they just come here to eat a meal," Ravalli County Disaster Action Team Chair.

He says the displaced appreciate the help, and the help appreciates being of service.

"I went to a single family fire was my first assignment, and the woman there had lost everything. We handed her a care kit, a comfort kit with a wash cloth and shampoo, and she cried. We cried with her. She said "I finally own something again." That's why we do these things," he said.

Erickson said his team will be there as long they're needed.

RELATED: Forest Service bringing in top crew to attack Roaring Lion Fire

RELATED: Wildfire rages near Hamilton, evacuations ordered

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