Rice Ridge Fire Update
Thursday, September 14, 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 10 am) and Blackfoot Mercantile in Ovando (1 pm to 3 pm).
Upcoming Community Meeting:
Ovando: Tentatively Friday, September 15th, but may be postponed due to incoming weather.
The waters of Seeley Lake will be re-opened today for recreation.
Summary: Yesterday’s Red Flag Warning brought gusty winds over the fire area, but firefighters were still able to complete aerial and hand ignition on the south side of the fire to complete the burnout along 6 miles of Forest Road 477 west of Monture Cabin. Helicopters dropped retardant on the green (south) side of road 477 to create a barrier to spot fires while the burnout was progressing towards the fire line. The burnout was successfully completed when the Flathead Hotshots finished hand firing about 12:30 am this morning. Other crews focused on the northwest corner of the fire near Camp Creek where the fire is still backing towards Forest Road 720.
From the Findell Creek area south to Little Shanley Creek, most of the fire is now contained. Two areas remain along this fire line in Blind Canyon Creek and Swamp Creek where the fire stubbornly continues to be difficult to mop up. A Type I helicopter was brought in yesterday to do bucket drops of water on these locations in addition to two large sprinkler system that have been installed to drench this area.
Fire activity increased in the McCabe Creek drainage east of Monture Cabin. Shaded fuel break construction continued on Forest Road 89 and east to Doney Lake. Helicopters dropped water on the east side of the fire in McDermott Creek canyon to keep the fire from moving south towards Coopers Lake. However they had to shut down operations about 3 pm due to high winds in the area, making it unsafe to fly. The fire did not move south in the canyon, and structure protection remains in place around homes at Coopers Lake. A ½ acre fire was mopped up between Coopers Lake and the Park Creek fire as a result of a fire caused by a feller buncher constructing fire line west of the Park Creek fire on the Wednesday. Night patrol and mop up focused on fire lines north of Seeley Lake near Camp Creek and additional resources including engines supported completion of the burnout operation and subsequent mop up on the south side of the fire. Structure protection remains in place around Placid Lake (east of the Liberty fire).
Today: Fire size remains the same as yesterday because cloud cover did not allow an infrared flight over the fire last night. However, fire growth did occur yesterday around the fire area due to winds gusting to 30 MPH. Cooler temperatures today will reduce fire activity and allow firefighters to continue mop up prior to the predicted rain that should arrive over the fire area by 3:00 pm. Firefighters should be able to build direct fire line against the fire edge in the Camp Creek area this morning above Forest Road 720. Mop up and patrol will continue from Camp Creek south and east to Monture Cabin. Mop up will focus on the area of the burnout between Little Shanley Creek and Cave Creek on the south side of the fire. Firefighters will continue back haul of any hose, pumps and other firefighting equipment along the fire line where it is no longer needed. Heavy Equipment task forces will continue indirect fire line, shaded fuel break construction, and log and slash removal from Doney Lake east towards Coopers Lake. Structure protection is in place around Coopers Lake. Air support will be available as needed, and the fire in the McDermott Creek drainage will continue to be monitored for any movement towards the south. Firefighters will continue their coordination of operations with their counterparts on the Park Creek Fire as fire line construction moves towards the Coopers Lake area from both directions. Structure protection is in place around Placid Lake east of the Liberty fire. A portable retardant base at the Kozy Korner helibase will be shut down today in anticipation of freezing nighttime temperatures starting tonight.
Completed·: The suppression strategy for this fire is full suppression on 23% of the fire perimeter and confinement on 12 % of the fire perimeter for a total of 35%. The remaining 65% of the fire is burning in remote backcountry and wilderness and will be monitored. Action will be taken as necessary to keep the fire from coming out into areas where values at risk would be impacted. Today’s “Completed” percentage in the table on page 1 indicates that 40% of the full suppression and confinement actions taken on the fire have been completed.
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 and that portion of Zone 5 near Seeley Lake that is in Powell County.
Missoula County evacuation orders and warnings:
All Evacuation Zones near Seeley Lake remain under Evacuation Warning.
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.
Jurisdiction: 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.