The Lolo Complex Fire was originally two low-priority fires that did not threaten structures. However, in the past 40 hours, hot weather and winds have fanned the fires into an official state of emergency. Now, the West Fork II fire and the original School House Fire are considered one giant threat as they burn on both sides of Highway 12.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team should take control of the fire today, bringing more resources to bear on a fire that appears to have exploded out of control.

The fire exploded Sunday night from 15 to 250 acres by Monday morning. Then, it reached over 2,000 by Monday afternoon. By Tuesday morning. Officials with the DNRC estimate that the fire is over 5,000 acres.

According to the Missoula County Sheriff's Department, between four and eight homes have been lost in the fire. Department spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says deputies are working furiously to deliver pre-evacuation notices to citizens in the path of the blaze.

"All homes between Bear Creek Road eastbound to Sleeman Gulch have been given pre-evacuation notices due to the growth of the Lolo Complex Fires," Pavalone said. "Residents may not receive second notification depending on the development of the fire and roadway accessibility. Several hundred homes have received notices thus far and County Deputies continue their efforts to make contact at every residence."

Spokesman Cindy Super reports that a shelter for evacuees has been established. it is at Christ the King Church, 1400 Gerald Street, in Missoula.

Also, Missoula County Disaster & Emergency Services has established a hotline for affected residents with information on shelters, care for large animals, and other information. The number is 258-4636.