Community Invited to Rice Ridge Fire Recap

Feb. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Seeley Lake Elementary School


February 22, 2018

SEELEY LAKE - Just 10 years after the Jocko Fire threatened Seeley Lake, our community was impacted by two major wildfires: the Liberty Fire west of Placid Lake and the 160,000 acre Ridge Ridge Fire north and east of Seeley Lake. Over the course of the summer, wildland fire fighters fought both fires, staging out of two large fire camps in Seeley Lake. Our community had to adjust to evacuation warnings and orders, smoke levels causing unprecedented hazardous air quality, the presence of the National Guard and a significant hit to our economy. Hundreds of firefighters worked night and day fighting fires on the Lolo National Forest and two lost their lives.

These months were a tough time for our town.

The Clearwater Resource Council (CRC) is working in partnership with the Seeley Lake Community Foundation, Swan Valley Connections and the US Forest Service to present a community forum to more deeply understand the events of the Rice Ridge fire, how decisions are made and how we can protect and prepare our community for future fires.


“CRC and our partners thought that a meeting to recap the events of last year’s Rice Ridge Fire would be beneficial to the community to understand all that occurred and the strategy and tactics used in fighting the fire,” said Jon Haufler, President of CRC.

This recap of the Rice Ridge Fire will be held Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Seeley Lake Elementary School’s All Purpose Room. The evening will include a retrospective look at the fires of 2017 including a regional perspective of the fire conditions, fire and evacuation decision structures, the significant fire events, fire and fuel management information and opportunities to enhance a fire-resilient community.

Speakers on the panel include Rachel Feigley, Seeley Lake District Ranger; Laura Ward, Lolo Forest Fire Management Officer; Chris (CJ) Johnson, Lolo Fire Training Specialist; Captain Robert Taylor with the Missoula County Sheriffs Department; Jon Haufler, CRC President and Cory Calnan with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

Additional panelists available to field questions will include Tim Garcia, Lolo Forest Supervisor; Sarah Coefield, Air Quality Specialist, Missoula City-County Health Department; Adriane Beck, Director DES Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management; John W. Thompson, Fire Management Officer (and Northern Region Type 2 Incident Commander) with the BLM Western Montana District, Kristin Baker-Dickinson with MT DNRC; a representative from the Seeley Lake Volunteer Fire Department and others.

Jessica Stewart-Kuntz, Director of Operations and Grants for the Montana Community Foundation, will facilitate the meeting. Everyone is welcome and you are encouraged to provide written questions for the event.


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