Rice Ridge Fire Update
Monday, September 11, 2017; 8:30 AM
Northern Rockies Incident Management Team
Greg Poncin, Incident Commander
Fire origin: July 24, 2017, 1.4 miles northeast of Seeley Lake Montana.
Fire Information: (406) 813-0527 Hours: 7am – 9pm
Websites: Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5414
Missoula County Sheriff:https://tinyurl.com/Msla-Sheriff
Powell County Sheriff: https://tinyurl.com/powell-sheriff
Facebook: Lolo National Forest Facebook Page
Missoula County Sheriff Facebook Page
Staffed Fire Information Locations: Seeley Lake at Cory’s Valley Market (8 am to 8 pm) and Blackfoot Mercantile in Ovando (1 pm to 3 pm).
Today we honor the more than 400 firefighters and law enforcement officers killed during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America. Never Forget.
Seeley Lake – 6 pm tonight (September 11th) at the Mission Bible Fellowship Church, 3158 Highway 83 in Seeley Lake.
Ovando – 6 pm Tuesday night (September 12th) at Ovando Elementary School Gym, 108 Birch Street
Summary: Firefighters made good progress on the western fire lines yesterday as clear skies allowed air support throughout the day for the first time in a week. On the northwest corner of the fire near Camp Creek firefighters have built a large berm forming a “cup trench” on the outside edge of Forest Road 720 that has caught large rollout such as burning logs that have come off the slope above the road. This has helped prevent spot fires below the road. Indirect fire line construction continued along Forest Road 4363, with dozer line being built from road 4363 towards the 2015 Richmond Peak fire scar. Mop up continued from Findell and Murphy Creek south to the Kozy Korner area. Firefighters are putting out all sources of heat, with a goal of eliminating any heat within 100 feet of the fire line.
A large aerial burnout operation was started in the afternoon on the south side of the Rice Ridge fire north of Forest Road 477 and west of Monture Cabin. This firing operation started about 2.5 miles north of the 477 road on ridge tops in the area between Little Stanley Creek/ Black Canyon Creek on the west and Cave Creek/Dunham Creek on the east. The purpose of the operation is to bring the main fire to the fire line and will take about 3 days to complete.
Heavy equipment continued to remove logs and slash from the shaded fuel break on Forest Road 477 west of Monture Cabin and mop up continued in the cabin area. A hand line was constructed from Monture Cabin to Spread Creek to tie into Trail 166. A shaded fuel break was completed on the Monture Road (FS 89) south to where indirect fire line construction is moving east towards Coopers Lake. Seeley Lake was closed to water craft use so fixed-wing “scooper” planes from Ontario, Canada (currently based in Helena, Montana) could “scoop” water from Seeley Lake to drop on the east side of the fire in McDermott Creek to keep the fire from moving south towards homes around Coopers Lake. Structure protection continued around the homes at Coopers Lake. Structure assessment and protection was completed on an additional 20 homes around Placid Lake east of the Liberty fire. Night operations, patrol and mop up, continued.
Today: Fire activity will be mostly terrain and fuel driven today, with winds out of the west/southwest, gusting 12-15 mph on ridge tops. The northwest corner of the fire remains the highest priority area due to its location close to the town of Seeley Lake. Firefighters will continue to hold Forest Road 720 as fire backs down to the road, and start mop up where it has reached the road. They will continue improvements to Forest Road 4363 and a dozer line to the 2015 Richmond Fire scar as a backup contingency line behind the primary control line (Forest Road 720). Mop up will continue from Findell Creek south and east to Little Shanley Creek near Kozy Korner. Aerial ignition burnout operations will continue for the second day along ridges north of the area between Little Shanley Creek/ Black Canyon Creek on the west and Cave Creek/Dunham Creek on the east. This operation will allow low intensity fire to back downhill towards the control line. Slash and log removal will continue along Forest Road 477 in the same area to have the road ready to use as the control line for the burnout once the fire backs downhill to the road. Heavy Equipment task forces will continue indirect fire line and shaded fuel break construction east of Monture Road. Structure protection will continue around Coopers Lake on the east side of the fire. At Placid Lake, firefighters should complete structure assessment and protection today on the remaining 40 homes that could be threatened by any eastward movement of the Liberty fire.
Evacuations and Warnings:
Powell County evacuation order: includes the Monture Cabin area and the Coopers Lake area.
Powell County evacuation warning: includes all other areas of Powell County north of Highway 200 between the Missoula County line on the west and the Lewis and Clark County line on the east.
Powell County residents can download CodeRED to their mobile devices to receive critical information notifications, available through the Sheriff’s website.
Missoula County evacuation orders and warnings:
Zone 5, which includes approximately 6 homes, is the only zone still under Evacuation Order in Missoula County. All Evacuation Warnings in Missoula County remain in effect.
Missoula County residents can receive emergency notifications of critical alerts via their choice of text, phone and/or email by signing up for Smart911 at https://www.smart911.com/.
Evacuation Shelters: Anyone seeking shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668.
Seeley Lake: Camp Paxson at 4200 Boy Scout Road.
Ovando: Ovando Elementary School Gymnasium at 108 Birch Street.
Evacuation/Closure Information: Evacuations and road closures are based upon the need to provide for safety of the public and firefighters, current fire behavior, forecasted weather, and planned suppression operations. Fire officials, Missoula and Powell County Sheriff’s Offices, and Montana Department of Transportation will evaluate the evacuation and road closures daily. The Incident Commander and the Missoula and Powell County Sheriffs appreciate your patience and will work hard to get you back into your homes as soon as it is safe to do so. Go to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Facebook page or, in Powell County, call 406-396-1386 for the most current information.
Drones and TFR: There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for the Rice Ridge fire including “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles. If drones are detected, air operations stop. If you see a drone in the fire area, including the evacuation areas, report it immediately to 406-813-0527. Your cooperation is needed to insure the safety of our pilots.
Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for Missoula and Powell Counties and across the Lolo and Flathead National Forests with the exception of the Bob Marshall Wilderness which is in Stage 1. However, many areas in the wilderness are closed due to the fire. Additional information is on Inciweb and the Lolo and Flathead National Forest websites.
Closures: Multiple closures related to Rice Ridge Fire suppression efforts are in effect for public lands managed by the Lolo and Flathead National Forests, Bureau of Land Management, Montana DNRC, and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Visit fwp.mt.gov or call 406-542-5500 for up-to-date information on closures.
The fire is under the jurisdiction of the Lolo National Forest and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC). Montana National Guardsoldiersare providing assistance to the Missoula and Powell County Sheriffs.
Cooperators: Missoula County Sheriff, Flathead National Forest, Powell County Sheriff, Seeley Lake Fire Department, Montana FWP, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Department of Transportation, Red Cross, Missoula County Commissioners, Powell County Commissioners, Ovando Volunteer Fire Department.