Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Rice Ridge Fire Sunday Morning Update


August 3, 2017

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

The Wilderness Sportsmans Club Shooting range at the end of the airport has a pumpkin with sprinklers set up around it to aid in suppressing the fire should it get close.

Rice Ridge Fire Morning Update: A Public Meeting will be held TONIGHT, Aug. 6 at 6pm at the Seeley Lake Elementary School.

The Rice Ridge Fire grew around 240 acres yesterday bringing it up to 7,946 as of 5am this morning. It is still 10% contained and has 9 crews, 22 engines, 2 helicopters, 4 dozers, 7 water tenders and overhead personnel totaling 370 Firefighters assigned to the fire.

SUMMARY: Saturday's cooler temps and increased humidity resulted in decreased fire behavior over much of the fire area.

Fire crews on the west and south sides of the fire were able to improve fire line, install additional hose lays and sprinklers as well as prepare forest roadways to serve as large firebreaks. On the southeast side of the fire crews extended control lines to limit the spread of the fire to the south.

Aircraft were hampered by smoke affecting Missoula, where many of the fixed wing aircraft are staged. Two heavy helicopters assigned to the fire worked on cooling hot spots on the southeast corner of the fire through part of the afternoon.

Structure protection groups continue to thin fuels and place hose lays along the Highway 83 corridor and the north side of Seeley Lakes and the Double Arrow community. Crews are testing pumps and hoses to ensure functionality should they be needed.

The evacuation warning issued to residents is still in effect on both sides of Highway 83 south of Rice Ridge Road to Morrell Creek and south of Cottonwood Lakes Road east of Highway 83, including the town of Seeley Lake and Double Arrow Ranch. No actual evacuations have been ordered.

A fire information booth will be staffed at the Valley Market on Highway 83 from 10am to 5pm.

Residents of the area should sign up for Smart911 at to ensure they receive any emergency messages about potential evacuations.

The American Red Cross has opened a shelter for those who wish to pre-evacuate. It is located at the Potomac Community Center, 29827 Potomac Rd., in Potomac. All evacuees are welcome and there is no cost to stay in the shelter. More info at

ADVISORIES: Smoke from British Columbia fires has come into the area with the passing of the recent cold front.

For smoke forecasts and health impact information go to:

CLOSURES: A closure order is still in effect for the areas surrounding the Rice Ridge Fire. A map and copies of the official closure orders are available on Inciweb. Seeley Lake waters are still closed to all recreational activities and will be through the weekend due to aircraft scooping water.

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

A masticator works chewing up the fuels to widen the Auggie Morrell Cutoff Road should they need to use it as a line to hold the fire on the south.

TODAY'S PLANS: On the south end of the fire, crews will continue to build direct and indirect firelines and improve hazard fuel treatments along Forest Roads 477 and 4353. Hoselays will continue to be installed for structure protection around properties and along control lines. On the west side of the fire crews will implement fuels treatments and build indirect fireline parallel to Highway 83.

WEATHER: Mostly sunny and hazy today with areas of smoke in the morning to early afternoon. High temps in the upper 70s to low 80s. Relative humidity of 24-34% later in the day.

FIRE BEHAVIOR:Areas on the south end of the fire will continue to see a decrease in fire activity, with only surface fuels burning. The north end of the fire has potential for interior single tree torching later in the day.


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