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Liberty Fire

Unit Information

Flathead Agency
Bureau of Indian Affairs
PO Box 40 Pablo Montana 59855
Pablo, MT 59855

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Rice Ridge/Liberty Fire Update Sept 17

Liberty Fire Wildfire
News – 9/17/2017

Rice Ridge Fire Update

Sunday, September 17, 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:

Missoula County Sheriff:

Powell County Sheriff:

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).

The Liberty fire is being managed by Greg Poncin’s Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team. All information concerning the Liberty fire will be updated daily on the Rice Ridge Fire Daily Update.

Upcoming Community Meetings:
Seeley Lake: Monday, September 18th, 6 pm at the Mission Bible Fellowship Church, 3158 Highway 83.

Ovando: Tuesday, September 19th, 6 pm at the Ovando Elementary School Gym, 108 Birch Street.

Summary: Temperatures should reach 60 degrees today but higher humidity and recent moisture have minimized fire behavior over the entire fire area. Another cold front will approach from the west early next week, dropping temperatures and bringing some moisture.

Rice Ridge: Firefighters focused on mop up in Sawyer Creek, Blind Canyon Creek and Swamp Creek where fire continues to creep and smolder in boggy areas near the fire line. Excavators continued fire suppression repair of dozer lines interior to the fire lines east of the town of Seeley Lake. Sprinklers are also still in place near the cabin that was saved by firefighters last week by the North Fork of Cottonwood Creek. On the remainder of the fire line, most equipment has been removed from locations where it is no longer needed. The indirect fire line between Forest Road 89 and Coopers Lake continued to have logs processed for removal. All hose sprinkler systems were removed from the Monture Cabin area, Doney Lake and Coopers Lake. The Montana National Guard continues to maintain road blocks into several areas, especially where heavy equipment is operating.

Liberty: Slash from shaded fuel breaks on the west side of the fire was piled in safety zones and burned since snow surrounded the slash piles. In the Second Creek drainage on the northeast side of the fire, firefighters were able to build fire line directly along the fire’s edge due to minimal fire behavior. The east side of the fire was in patrol status although some of the roads were too slick for travel due to snow and mud. On the southeast and south side of the fire along the Belmont Road, firefighters mopped up several areas which retained heat close to the fire line even though the area received rain. Fire in the Rattlesnake Wilderness appeared to be inactive along the fire edge.

Today on Rice Ridge: Mop up will continue on the north side of the fire along Forest Road 720 near Camp Creek and firefighters will patrol south and east from there along the fire line to Monture Cabin. Sprinkler systems will remain in place at Sawyer Creek, Blind Canyon Creek and Swamp Creek near Seeley Lake. Mop up will continue along Forest Road 477 between Little Shanley Creek and Cave Creek on the south side of the fire. Heavy equipment will be focused on the indirect fire line between Forest Road 89 and Coopers Lake to continue log processing and slash removal along the shaded fuel break. Firefighters will continue back haul of hose, pumps and other firefighting equipment along the fire line where it is no longer needed.

Today on Liberty: Firefighters will continue to burn slash piles today that are located in safety zones on the west side of the fire, monitor the north side of the fire and continue mop up in the Second Creek drainage. They will patrol the east side of the fire and back haul firefighting equipment from the fire line. On the southeast side of the fire they will continue mop up in several areas along the Belmont Road still holding heat near the fire line.

Completed·: The suppression strategy for Rice Ridge 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 summary table on page 1 indicates that 61% of the full suppression/confinement actions taken on the fire have been completed. On Liberty fire, the suppression strategy is full suppression on 50% of the fire perimeter and confinement on 50% of the fire perimeter. Today’s “Completion” percentage summary table indicates that 90% of these actions have been completed.

Evacuations and Warnings:
Powell County evacuation warnings: all Evacuation Zones in 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 remain under Evacuation Warning.

Missoula County evacuation warnings:
All Evacuation Zones near Seeley Lake remain under Evacuation Warning.

Evacuation/Closure Information
: Evacuations/road closures are based upon the need to provide for public and firefighter safety, current fire behavior, forecast weather, and planned fire operations. Fire officials, Missoula and Powell County Sheriff’s Offices, and Montana Department of Transportation evaluate evacuation and road closures daily. Go to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Facebook page or, in Powell County, call 406-396-1386 for the most current information.

Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for Missoula, Powell and Lake Counties and across the Lolo and Flathead National Forests with the exception of the Bob Marshall Wilderness which is in Stage 1. Many areas in wilderness are closed due to the fires. Find information on Inciweb and 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 the Lolo and Flathead NF webpages or or call 406-542-5500 for up-to-date information on closures.

Jurisdiction: The Lolo National Forest, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana DNRC. Montana National Guardsoldiersare providing assistance to the Missoula and Powell County Sheriffs.

Cooperators: Missoula, Powell and Lake County Sheriffs, Flathead National Forest, Seeley Lake Fire Department, Montana FWP, Montana Highway Patrol, Montana Department of Transportation, Missoula and Powell County Commissioners, Ovando Volunteer Fire Department, Northwestern Energy, Missoula Electric Co-op, The Nature Conservancy, Missoula County OEM, Bureau of Land Management, Greenough-Potomac Fire Department.

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