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Rice Ridge Fire

Unit Information

Lolo National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
Missoula, MT 59804

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Rice Ridge Fire Update 9-1-2017

Rice Ridge Fire Wildfire
News – 9/1/2017

A community meeting will be held tonight, September 1, at 6:00 p.m. at the Ovando Elementary School. This event will not be live streamed.

Location: Approximately1.4 miles northeast of Seeley Lake Montana
Cause: Lightning caused on July 24, 2017
Fire Size and Containment: 37,032 acres and 18% contained
Total Personnel: 729

Yesterday: Crews held fire growth at critical locations across the perimeter despite yesterday’s red flag warning. On the west flank of the fire, ground and aerial resources limited spread in the Murphy Creek and Sawyer Creek drainages where the fire spotted frequently during afternoon winds. Windy conditions and active fire behavior once again forced crews to disengage from the fire during the afternoon. New line construction began between Findell and Sawyer Creek in an attempt to limit fire growth to the north and west. In the Morrell Creek area, growth to the south was limited by new fire line and direct engagement of spot fires. Active fire behavior was observed in the Morrell Mountain area as the fire continued to remove fuel and back down towards the Cottonwood Lakes Road. Backing fire activity was also seen to the east of Cottonwood Lakes as the fire moved south towards the Cottonwood Lakes Road. Crews and aircraft were able to hold the fire to the north of the road with the help of previous fuel treatments and support from heavy helicopters. Significant spotting was observed in the Cottonwood Lakes area, but firefighters assisted by heavy helicopters successfully held fire growth to the north of the Cottonwood Lakes Road.

Planned Actions: Fire managers will reassess fire line locations after yesterday’s growth along the north end of the fire perimeter while attempting to tie into the 2015 Morrell Complex Fire burn scar. On the west flank of the fire crews will continue to construct and extend direct fire line in an effort to increase containment. Current containment lines will be patrolled throughout the day. In the Morrell Creek drainage, crews will continue to engage spot fires and may use strategic burning operations to enhance fire line if conditions allow. Personnel will continue to hold fire to the north near Morrell Mountain. A newly acquired hotshot crew may be burning in the Morrell Mountain area to eliminate fuel between indirect lines and the fire front. Engines, crews, and aircraft will be working along the Cottonwood Lakes Road near Cottonwood Lakes to address spot fires and hold the fire to the north of the road.

Evacuations: The Missoula County Sheriff has issued multiple evacuation ORDERS and WARNINGS. The current map and description is posted on Inciweb. A shelter site is located at the UCC Church, 405 University Avenue, Missoula MT. Anyone seeking shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668. Residents of the area should sign up for Smart911 at to ensure they receive messages about potential evacuations.

Closures: New closures are in effect for the Horseshoe Hills area, the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, and surrounding Montana DNRC and BLM lands. An existing closure order in effect for the areas surrounding the Rice Ridge Fire is posted on Inciweb. Big Larch Campground, Big Larch boat launch, Seeley Lake Campground boat launch, Canoe Trail and Seeley Lake waters are closed due to aerial operations related to Rice Ridge Fire suppression efforts.

Air Quality: For current air quality information please visit Inciweb.

Weather: Today will be mostly clear with valley smoke in the morning. Temperatures could reach the low 80’s on ridge tops and the mid 80’s in valley bottoms. Minimum humidity levels are expected between 17% and 22%. Winds will be out of the West/Southwest and shifting to the West/Northwest at 8 mph with potential gusts in the afternoon up to 18 mph.

Important: Drones are prohibited in the fire vicinity &have the potential to shut down all air operations. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place. (

Cooperators: Seeley Lake FD, Missoula County Sherriff, Missoula County OEM, Montana DNRC, Montana Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Montana DOT, American Red Cross, Montana Highway Patrol.


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