Whether you live, work, or play in Montana, nothing gets your attention quite like the news of a forest fire, especially if the fire is in your own backyard.
Well, as many of you know the recent Roaring Lion wildfire is right in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley, within 5 miles of downtown Hamilton.
The fire broke out on Sunday, July 31st and blew up to thousands of acres within hours of starting. Career firefighters and law enforcement officers all agree this fire was unprecedented in how quickly it turned into an uncontrollable beast.
If you haven’t seen it before, take a look at this 2 minute video that captured a 4 hour period when the fire began:
Well that was just 10 days ago and what a week we’ve had in the Bitterroot Valley since then.
The good news is that through nothing short of heroic efforts by hundreds of firefighters, law enforcement, Forest Service, emergency services and volunteers, the fire has already been largely contained on 3 of the 4 borders of the fire.
Mother Nature lent a helping hand over the past few days with cooler temperatures and very welcome rain, and as a result the Type 1 incident management team is turning the fire over to a Type 3 team later this afternoon, signaling increased confidence in the ability to control and manage this fire in the future.
Hundreds of homes were evacuated or put on notice of potential evacuation, but most of these residents have now returned to their homes.
Tragically, 16 homes were lost along with dozens of outbuildings, vehicles, and equipment in the Roaring Lion area. Even worse, one individual lost his life due to a medical event during evacuation.
Our hearts, along with the hearts of the entire community, are broken for those who suffered these losses as a result of the fire. Everyone here knows someone affected by the fire, and the outpouring of support has been something all Bitterroot Valley residents will never forget.
The efforts put forth by the firefighters have been unbelievable. Can you imagine heading into a fire like this? Well we can’t, but we’re sure thankful that these brave individuals came to Hamilton to save our homes and neighborhoods!
Beginning within an hour of the fire’s outbreak, we began to hear from guests, past and present, to convey their concerns, love and support. We were shocked when we started to hear from guests who had stayed with us 6, 7 and 8 years ago telling us that we were in their thoughts and prayers.
This went on for days and we’re still hearing from people with kind words and support. Thank you all so much for your outpouring of kindness; it means the world to us. I’m happy to report that we’re doing just fine and that our home and businesses have not been threatened by this wildfire.
Since we manage a property in what was the mandatory evacuation zone, we also had to work with guests to do what we could to relocate them to other accommodations within our rental inventory. Again we were overwhelmed with the cooperation and helpful attitudes of these groups, and we haven’t registered a single complaint from anyone throughout this process. Thanks again to all of you who worked together with us through this trying time.
If you have an upcoming visit to the Bitterroot Valley we’re happy to report that the conditions are pretty darn nice at the moment. There has been little smoke in the valley even though the fire is still burning high on the western flank, but depending on the weather and wind you might not even know there is a fire in the area.
Our West Fork and East Fork cabins have not been affected at all, and the weather and fishing this summer have both been spectacular.
If you have questions about your reservation or the potential impact to your rental property, feel free to give us a call or shoot us an email and we’ll give you an update.
If you are still considering a visit to the Bitterroot Valley this summer or fall, you can see all our availability on the Master Calendar.
15 years ago we moved to this community to finish raising our family in a small town environment where everyone knows everyone. It was the best decision we ever made and this past week has reinforced this decision. We’re proud to be a part of this community and we’re thankful for everything that small town life has done for us.
Be safe firefighters, and thanks again for coming to our aid!