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By Micah Drew

You Wouldn't Even Think There's a Fire


August 10, 2017

SEELEY LAKE – Just over a hundred people showed up for the fifth Rice Ridge Fire community meeting at the Seeley Lake Elementary School Monday, Aug. 14.

The Rice Ridge Fire is still the top priority in the Northern Rockies Region, but a surge in fire activity in the Northwest has shifted the national priority to the west.

The Rice Ridge Fire showed no growth over the last day. It is contained at 10 percent and is 11,277 acres. There are 581 fire personnel currently working on the fire.

The Type 2 Incident Management Team that has been on the fire for two weeks has been extended and will continue working on the fire.

Fire operations are focused on establishing control lines on the north, west and south edge of the fire with priority on the southwest edge closest to town.

To the north, heavy equipment and crews have almost connected the indirect line from Rice Ridge Road to the 2015 Morrell Creek Fire burn scar.

On the west, the indirect line that parallels Highway 83 is also nearly complete.

To the south, the crews continue to remove brush to create a good fuel break. Cottonwood Lake Road is prepped as a contingency line in case the fire gets into the Cottonwood Drainage.

"The Blind Canyon area, it's giving us fits as managers," said Operations Chief Keith Murphy. "It's not threatening the town yet... but we can't stop it due to the terrain and how the fire's burning."

Murphy said that there is potential to try some strategic burning around Morrell Mountain to stop the fire from reaching the top of the ridge and getting in to the Cottonwood drainage. To safely execute strategic burning, the crews are waiting for the wind to shift to the southwest, which is predicted to happen in the latter half of the week.

"We still have that concern along Cottonwood Lakes Road," said Murphy, gesturing towards the southwest corner of the fire on the map. "If we can button this up, town will be looking much better."

In an update from the Liberty Fire, evacuation warnings along Placid Lake were lifted today.

The next meeting will be Thursday evening, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at SLE.


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