Rice Ridge Fire Sunday Morning Update


August 31, 2017

Nathan Bourne, Pathfinder

The Rice Ridge Fire burning north and east of Seeley Lake Saturday night, Sept. 2

Morning Update: The next community meeting will be Monday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. at a location yet to be determined. The evacuation order is still in place, so those who have chosen not to evacuate will not be allowed back to their homes. Escorts continue into the evacuated area again today. Sign up at the Sheriff's Trailer outside Cory's Valley Market.

The Rice Ridge Fire grew more than 12,000 acres yesterday. It is now 52,894 acres and remains 18% contained. There are currently 757 fire personnel on the fire.

YESTERDAY: Saturday was an active fire day, northwesterly winds continued to be generally favorable in keeping the fire perimeter in check and allowing crews to conduct strategic burning operations to strengthen line. In the late afternoon hours, spotting activity along Morrell Creek combined with the westerly winds created a large plume of smoke and drove the fire back into the main body of the fire. Heavy equipment worked to remove fuels and improve line along the Cottonwood Lakes Road (477) on the eastern fire perimeter while crews worked to secure fire lines north of the road and monitored spotting activity south of the road. Two Type 1 and one Type 3 helicopters conducted water drops and aerial observation yesterday. Firefighters were assisted in the late afternoon by air tankers dropping retardant in the Morrell Creek area. Structure protection crews worked along the Hwy 83 corridor and Kozy Korner. A red flag warning was issued late in the day as winds gusted to 18 mph and relative humidities dropped into the low teens.


TODAY: Crews working along the northwestern flank of the fire are continuing indirect line construction north of Murphy Creek. Crews will be strengthening line and looking for opportunities to check the fire spread in the Sawyer Creek area. Heavy equipment will be used to construct fire line along Cottonwood Lakes Road. General line improvement will continue within the same area as crews scout for spot fires along the southwestern edge of the fire. Heavy equipment will be used to remove fuels and improve line between Little Shanley Creek and Cottonwood Lakes Road. In anticipation of the predicted easterly winds, crews will be scouting for additional equipment removal routes.

A Red Flag Warning is again in effect for today and into Monday 9/4/2017. Extremely hot and dry conditions will persist all day across the Northern Rockies. These dry conditions will combine with breezy westerly winds and an unstable atmosphere this afternoon and evening to create critical fire weather conditions across western Montana.

Today's high temperatures are predicted to reach 90 to 95 degrees in the valleys with wind gusts as high as 18mph. East winds are expected to reach the areas during the overnight hours.

Similar to yesterday, air operations will be very busy. Two Type 1 and one Type 3 helicopters are assigned to the fire for water drops and aerial observation. Large air tankers will be available as needed. Structure protection efforts will continue today and overnight along the Hwy 83 corridor, Kozy Korner and Monture Guard Station.

Evacuations: The Missoula County Sheriff has issued multiple evacuation ORDERS and WARNINGS. The current map and description is posted on Inciweb. A shelter site is located at the UCC Church, 405 University Avenue, Missoula MT. Anyone seeking shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668. Residents of the area should sign up for Smart911 at https://www.smart911.com/ to ensure they receive messages about potential evacuations.

Closures: Closures are in effect for the Horseshoe Hills area, the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area, and surrounding Montana DNRC and BLM lands. An existing closure order in effect for the areas surrounding the Rice Ridge Fire is posted on Inciweb. Big Larch Campground, Big Larch boat launch, Seeley Lake Campground boat launch, Canoe Trail and Seeley Lake waters are closed due

to aerial operations related to Rice Ridge Fire suppression efforts.

Important: Drones are prohibited in the fire vicinity &have the potential to shut down all air operations. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) remains in place (http://tfr.faa.gov/save_pages/detail_7_9440.html).


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