Lolo, MT -

Two fires burning west of Lolo grew rapidly on Monday, forcing evacuations and threatening homes.

The Missoulian reports the West Fork II Fire moved north and jumped U.S. Highway 12 at about 2:45 p.m., while flames appeared to surround two homes on the south side of the road. The fire moved from the top of a ridge to the bottom in less than 15 minutes and in the following 15 minutes moved another two miles down the canyon toward the town of Lolo.

Motorists were trying to put out spot fires in the barrow pits when a passing sheriff's deputy yelled at them to leave.

Meanwhile the nearby Schoolhouse Fire had burned an estimated 600 acres and led to evacuations in the Bear Creek area.

U.S. Highway 12 west of Lolo was closed to all but firefighters and evacuees.