MISSOULA, Mont. - Fire officials reported that the Lolo Creek Complex fire is 40 percent contained on Saturday night, as residents continue to return to their homes off of Highway 12. Authorities reopened the highway at 8:00 am Saturday morning.
The fire's size is up to 10,567 acres. Saturday's firefighting efforts focused on a continued suppression effort, as hand crews, air tankers and helicopters tackled the northern end of the blaze. Fire officials say there is still significant work to be done to secure lines around parts of the fire.
Residents who live in homes accessed by Highway 12 remain on an evacuation warning.
Highway 12 has a reduced speed limit of 45 mph from mile marker 20 to mile marker 32. No parking or stopping is allowed on the highway until authorities give further notice. All previously instated forest service area closures remain in place.
NBC Montana caught up with several residents as they returned home on Saturday.
One former wild land firefighter, Todd Brandoff, told NBC Montana that he'll stay ready to leave his house off of Sleeman Creek road at a moment's notice.
"This is a place to stay, and it's not really home yet," said Brandoff. He also expressed gratitude for the firefighters who took steps to remove possible fire fuels from around his house as they worked the blaze.