Ravalli County residents who had been evacuated due to the Lolo Peak Fire have all been allowed to return home, according to a very happy and relieved Sheriff Steve Holton.

"The really good news today was that we were able to reevaluate with Greg Poncin's Incident Command Team that we can allow everybody that had been evacuated back into their homes," said Holton. "They're all still on a warning status. That's a little bit earlier than we had been expecting, and I think the firemen on the line deserve the credit for getting those fire lines built, but the bad news is, we still have a lot of fire season yet to go. Still, we all had a collective sigh of relief."

Holton does not believe that any of the homes that had been evacuated received any fire damage, although the full report has not yet been issued. He said the residents of Ravalli County are well used to fires in the summer, and they know the drill about evacuations, so there was a minimum of stress between the residents, the firefighters and Ravalli County Sheriff's Office personnel.

According to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, as of 6pm on Friday, all residents on Highway 12 have been downgraded to an evacuation WARNING, this includes the Elk Meadows and Mill Creek areas. This means residents there can return to their homes but should be prepared for a short notice evacuation should fire conditions change.

As of Saturday, the Lolo Peak Fire has burned over 34, 500 acres, or 53 square miles. Over 1,200 personnel are on the fire and dry conditions are leading to the growth of the fire which is now about 26 percent contained.

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