Montana wildfire updates for September 3, 2017

Montana wildfire updates for September 3, 2017

Source: NBC Montana
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MISSOULA, Mont. – The Rice Ridge Fire burning outside Seeley Lake is now the number one priority fire in the nation, according to fire information officers. The Montana wildfire that forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 homes and businesses in Seeley Lake is now causing people to leave their homes 30 miles away on the opposite edge of the blaze. The Rice Ridge Fire grew more than 12,000 acres Saturday, ballooning to least 55,000 acres. The fire is burning northeast of Seeley Lake.

Rice Ridge Fire (Seeley Lake)

  • Location: 2 miles northeast of Seeley Lake
  • Size: Over 55,000 acres
  • Containment: 18 percent
  • Structures Threatened: 1090
  • Mandatory Evacuation Orders:
    • Powell County officials on Sunday ordered the evacuation of the Cooper Lake area.
    • Northern Boundary: The junction of Highway 83 and Cedar Lane northeast to Morrell Creek Road. The boundary continues along the Cottonwood Lakes Road east to the Forest Boundary.
    • Eastern Boundary: Cottonwood Lakes Road at the Forest Boundary and south to the northern boundary of the Double Arrow.
    • Southern Boundary: The junction of Highway 83 and Whitetail Drive east to the junction of Whitetail Drive and Dolly Varden. The southern boundary continues east to include the area north of the Commons Area and eastward to the intersection of Montana Drive and South Canyon Drive, continuing southeast along Montana Drive to the junction with Glacier Drive and then south to the junction with Double Arrow Road including Pyramid Loop and all areas in the Double Arrow Subdivision to the south and east.
    • Western Boundary: The junction of Highway 83 and Cedar Lane south to the junction of Highway 83 and Whitetail Drive.
  • Evacuation Warnings:
    • This current warning area includes both sides of Highway 83 N. from Tamarack Resort to Bear Grass, extending to Bear Grass Ln, Loon Lane and Camp Creek.
    • Also under an evacuation warning are residents on both the north and south sides of Boy Scout Rd. to the Fawn Creek intersection.
    • Kozy Korner Meadows area. Eastern boundary starts in the 7500 block of Woodworth Road and runs west to Cottonwood Lakes Road, then north through the Rich Ranch. There are 15 homes in the warning area.
    • This also includes the Black Canyon Ranch which is the only property located on the south side of Woodworth Road in the warning area.
    • The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation WARNING for the Big Sky and Emerald Lake areas: This evacuation WARNING includes all properties from the intersection of Woodworth Road and Highway 83, East to Skilly Drive, and all properties north of Woodworth Road.
  • Red Cross shelter site located at the UCC Church, 405 University Avenue, Missoula MT.
  • Fire information booths will be staffed at the Valley Market, Seeley Airport and Rovero’s Hardware Store on Highway 83 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Closures: A closure order is still in effect for the areas surrounding the Rice Ridge Fire. All Seeley Lake waters are closed. Big Larch campground is still closed.

Lolo Peak Fire (Lolo)

  • Location: 10 miles southwest of Lolo
  • Size: 42,687 acres
  • Containment: 31 percent
  • Structures threatened: 540
  • Structures destroyed: 2 homes, 6 outbuildings
  • Evacuation orders and warnings:
    • The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office issued new evacuation warnings along the Highway 12 corridor because of the Lolo Peak Fire. 
    • The incident management team recommended warnings for approximately 10 homes between Bear Creek Road and Graves Creek Road along the Highway 12 corridor. 
    • The Ravalli County Sheriff issued new evacuation orders and warnings Sunday morning because of the Lolo Peak Fire. All residents west of Highway 93 from the north side of Bass Creek Road north to the intersection of Hannaford Ave. and Florence Carlton Loop are ordered to evacuate.
    • New evacuation warnings are in effect from the south side of Bass Creek Road to the north side of South Kootenai Creek Road to include Redtail Hawk Lane.
    • All evacuated residents are asked to check in at the Ravalli County Search and Rescue command van located at the Stevensville Super One parking lot. A Red Cross Evacuation Center is opening at the LDS Church in Stevensville.
  • Fire Information Locations: Staffed fire information is available in three locations:  Super 1 Foods in Stevensville; Farmers State Bank in Florence; and the weigh station in Lolo at the corner of Highways 12 and 93.
  • Returning Home: Residents may see changes to their property as a result of firefighting operations. Check your property for damage to your well/pump, electric/gas meter, propane tank and for fire-weakened trees.
  • Stage II Fire Restrictions are in effect for Missoula and Ravalli Counties and across the Lolo and Bitterroot National Forests. Additional information can be found on Inciweb.
  • Missoula County residents can receive emergency notifications of critical alerts via their choice of text, phone and/or email by signing up at
  • Shelters: the Red Cross shelter for Lolo Peak evacuees is located at the LDS church in Stevensville, 100 Middle Burn Fork Road.

Nelson Creek Fire (Bitterroot)

  • Location:  3 miles west of the West Fork Ranger District
  • Size: 270 acres
  • Containment: 35 percent
  • Evacuations: Residents on Nez Perce Road evacuated due to the Nelson Creek Fire can return home under a warning status. Residents should remain prepared to evacuate due to critical fire behavior.
  • Structures: None threatening to any structures.

Highway 200 Complex

  • Location: northwest of Plains
  • Size: 9,633 acres
  • Containment 0 percent
  • The Sanders County Sheriff’s Office have ordered several pre-evacuation warnings and implemented evacuations near the Sheep Gap Fire.
  • East of Plains, mandatory evacuations are in place from the end of River Road West to Arnold Road, at the corner of Section 11.
  • All residents in the Plains and Trout Creek areas should note that conditions are dynamic and will likely change quickly over the next few days.
  • Officials say to please have an evacuation plan in place NOW for what you would do in the event of an emergency. Wildfires can grow very quickly and you may receive little to no notice before an evacuation takes place.
  • Sheep Gap – 4,706 acres: This fire is currently the top management priority due to its threat to private property and residences. Approximately 70 residences are threatened and have been notified of mandatory evacuations by the Sanders County Sheriff’s Office. Firefighters are continuing to check for and secure spot fires on the northern edge of the fire. They are also working to put structure protection measures in place and establish contingency fire line where possible. Aerial resources will be assisting firefighters on the ground to slow fire spread and suppress any spot fires caused by wind-driven embers.
  • Reader Fires – 144 acres (total): The Reader and Reader 2 fires are being managed conjointly due to their close proximity. Firefighters are working to establish fire line around these two fires and hold the fire line already developed. Wind along the ridgetops will continue to challenge firefighting efforts. As these fires progress, pre-evacuation warnings are being issued to some residents in the areas of White Pine, Beaver Creek, and Little Beaver. All residents, please have an evacuation plan in place now and know what you would do in the event of an emergency.
  • Cub Creek – 1,060 acres: Firefighters will start direct and indirect line construction based on resource availability and priorities within the larger Highway 200 Complex. Much of the area surrounding this fire is roadless and will present access challenges to firefighters. The fire is expected to continue growing to the east, driven by winds.
  • Deep Creek – 2,225 acres: Firefighters will implement point protection strategies and look for opportunities to utilize direct tactics while minimizing firefighter exposure to hazards. Aircraft will continue to be utilized to keep the fire in check. The Cougar Peak Lookout is currently threatened but structure suppression actions have been implemented. With today’s expected wind there is potential for spot fires over Graves Creek Road and Deep Creek.
  • Moose Creek – 673 acres: This fire is currently unstaffed due to limited resources, however, structure protection specialists assessed the area north of the fire to develop future suppression objectives if needed.
  • Miller Creek – 188 acres: This fire is currently unstaffed due to limited resources.
  • Area closures are currently in place around the immediate fire areas and areas integral to safe fire operations. As hunting season continues, please respect area closures. The Forest Service is working to ensure that closures are kept to a minimum but are large enough for firefighter and public safety. Please see InciWeb and the Forest Service webpages for the latest closure area maps.

Gibralter Ridge Fire (Eureka)

  • Location: East of Eureka
  • Size: 6,785 acres
  • Containment: 27 percent
  • Structures threatened: 144
  • Evacuations: The Lincoln County Sheriff and the IMT evaluate the need for evacuations on a daily basis. A Pre-Evacuation Warning remains in effect for the Sherman Creek, Griffith Creek, Therriault Pass Road, Stevens Creek, Glen Lake and Sinclair Creek (south/east of West Road) areas.
  • Road Closure: Grave Creek Road and the Ten Lakes Recreation area are closed above the Grave Creek/Foothills Road junction.
  • Public Meeting: An information meeting for the Gibralter and Caribou fires will be held on Monday, September 4th at 7:00 pm at the Eureka High School Auditorium. Representatives from the Forest Service, Incident Management Team, Lincoln County Sherriff’s Office, Border Patrol, Red Cross, and Emergency Management will all be present to provide information on both fires.

Caribou Fire

  • Location: 21 miles northwest of Eureka
  • Size: 13,767 acres
  • Containment: 0 percent
  • Structures: unknown number destroyed
  • Located on the Three Rivers and Rexford Ranger Districts of the Kootenai National Forest, and has crossed into Canada.
  • Closures: Basin Yaak Road to Dodge Summit including Caribou Creek Campground are closed.
  • Evacuations: the Lincoln County Sheriff has issued a pre-evacuation warning for all zones in the West Kootenai area. There is a good probability of a need to evacuate. It is recommended to move any people requiring extraordinary care, large mobile property, and livestock (if feasible and deemed necessary).
  • Shelter: the Red Cross has emergency services set up in the Church of God in Eureka, MT located at 1295 2nd Ave behind the First Interstate Bank.
  • Public Meeting: An information meeting for the Gibralter and Caribou fires will be held on Monday, September 4th at 7:00 pm at the Eureka High School Auditorium. Representatives from the Forest Service, Incident Management Team, Lincoln County Sherriff’s Office, Border Patrol, Red Cross, and Emergency Management will all be present to provide information on both fires.

Alice Creek Fire

  • Location: near Lincoln, MT
  • Size: 11,593 acres
  • Containment: 5 percent
  • Road Closures: Highway 200 remains closed between 279 and 434. County Sheriff Officers are controlling traffic along the Highway and will open it as soon as it is safe to do so.  The Highway will remain closed until at least 1 p.m. Sunday.
  • Evacuations: The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s office has issues mandatory evacuation notices for residents in the Evergreen Subdivision (Elk Meadows subdivision) and ranches west of Road 434/435 north of Highway 200 due to fire growth.
  • Due to a growing threat from the Alice Creek Fire, the Sheriff of Lewis and Clark County has issued additional mandatory evacuations orders tonight. Residents on both sides of Highway 200, south of Highway 434, from mile marker 92 through mile marker 100, extending east to the south fork of the Dearborn River are under mandatory evacuations. For safety, affected residents are being asked to vacate their property as soon as practical. A Red Cross shelter is being set up at the Wolf Creek School located at 150 Walsh Street. Questions concerning the evacuations can be directed to the public information officer at 208-991-0067.
  • Due to the fire activity, an area closure is in-place that affects multiple trails and roads. A trail re-route is established for hikers along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
  • Shelter: The Red Cross shelter for Alice Creek evacuees is at Wolf Creek Elementary School at 150 Walsh Street in Wolf Creek.

Sunrise Fire (Superior)

  • Location: 11 miles southeast of Superior
  • Size: 26,064 acres
  • Containment: 90 percent
  • Evacuations: Stage II Evacuations were set in place by the Mineral County Sheriff this evening for the Quartz Creek residents. Stage II is a pre-evacuation warning and residents should be prepared to evacuate if fire conditions worsen. This is not an immediate evacuation. The Sunrise Fire became more active yesterday September 3, 2017 and continued movement in the Quartz Creek drainage. Fire managers are concerned with the upcoming weather and dry fuel conditions in the area.
  • Shelter: The Red Cross is prepared to provide shelter at Superior High School for evacuees.

Sapphire Complex Fire (Rock Creek)

  • Location: 25 miles southeast of Missoula
  • Size: 40,658 acres
  • Containment: 53 percent
  • Evacuations: Due to fire activity on the Little Hogback fire and predicted weather conditions, the Granite County Sheriff issued a Level Red-Evacuation Order for some residences along Rock Creek Road, effective Saturday, September 2, at 10:00 p.m. The Level Red- Evacuation Order was issued to residences along both sides of Upper Rock Creek Road and adjacent roads/neighborhoods, beginning from and including Wild Rose Loop south to Stony Creek. Approximately 35 residences will be impacted by the Level Red- Evacuation order. All other Level Yellow-Pre-evacuation notices are still in effect.
  • Structures Threatened: Private property and structures in the Rock Creek, Upper Willow Creek, and Marshall Creek drainages remain threatened. Other resources threatened include fisheries in Rock Creek, grazing lands along the southern boundary of the Little Hogback Fire, Bonneville Power Administration powerline, and a communication site.
  • Structures Destroyed: 1 cabin, 14 outbuildings.
  • Closures: The Rock Creek Road from I-90 south to Bitterroot Campground (MP 23.5) is OPEN. Due to fire traffic congestion and fire safety concerns, the Rock Creek Road will continue to be CLOSED from Bitterroot Campground, south to Cornish Gulch (FSR5027), and public traffic is NOT allowed. Upper Willow Creek Road is currently closed to the public. The Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has reduced closure restrictions in the Black Pine ridge area, but maintains all area closures in the Upper Willow Creek, North Fork Lower Willow Creek, and Harvey Creek areas. The Bureau of Land Management has implemented an area closure in the Upper Willow Creek, Ram Mountain, and nearby areas.
  • Fire Restrictions: Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in place on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (Forest Service land east of Sandstone Ridge). Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in place on BLM, private and state lands in Granite County, and the Lolo National Forest (Forest Service land west of Sandstone Ridge).

Meyers Fire (Philipsburg)

  • Location: 25 miles southwest of Philipsburg
  • Size: 37,649 acres
  • Containment: 5 percent
  • Structures threatened: 119
  • The Montana National Guard have been to deployed to help with fighting the Meyers Fire, located 25 miles southwest of Philipsburg.The soldiers are staffing five security checkpoints around the fire area to free law enforcement personnel for other duties.
  • Evacuations and Closures: The Frog Pond area is under an evacuation order. Moose Lake residents are under an evacuation warning. Additionally, an evacuation warning is in effect on East Fork Rd from FS Rd 5778 to Little East Fork Rd (FS RD 724) on the Bitterroot National Forest.
  • Bitterroot National Forest emergency closure orders are in effect for upper areas of the East Fork Bitterroot River. Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest emergency closure orders are in effect around the fire area. The closure of Forest Roads 893, 8684 and 8685 was rescinded at 6:00AM Friday, September 1, 2017. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in effect surrounding the Meyers Fire area. Granite County is under Stage 2 fire restrictions for private lands in the county. Amended Stage 1 fire restrictions are going into effect Saturday which prohibit ALL campfires in southwestern Montana, including in fire rings and developed recreation areas.

Sprague Fire (Glacier National Park)

  • Location: 9 miles northeast of West Glacier, MT
  • Size: 6,833 acres
  • Containment: 35 percent
  • Closures: All park entrances remain open. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed between Apgar Loop Road and Logan Pass. Logan Pass is accessible via the St. Mary Entrance. Apgar Village, Campground, and Picnic Area are open. The Sprague, Snyder, and Lincoln Creek drainages and associated trails, from Lake McDonald Trailhead on the west and Gunsight Pass on the east, are also closed to all use. Visit for trail, road, and campground information.
  • Evacuations: The order runs from the south end of Lake McDonald north to Logan Pass. This includes the North McDonald Road. This does not include the Apgar area at this time. This includes the Lake McDonald Lodge, concession housing, Kelly Camp Area, and the Avalanche and Sprague Creek Campgrounds. Logan Pass is still accessible from the east side of the Park. Park officials say everyone must vacate this area by 6 p.m. Sunday. The duration of the evacuation is unknown at this time.
  • Structure: Thursday afternoon at approximately 6 p.m., the main building at the Sperry Chalet was lost to the Sprague Fire. A highly skilled group of firefighters were staged at the Sperry Chalet over the last week. Those firefighters had an extensive hose lay, sprinkler, and pump system installed to protect all of the structures associated with the Chalet. The high winds experienced Thursday afternoon pushed the fire to the north and east. The firefighters were supported by 4 helicopters and made a valiant stand to save the structure. They were unsuccessful in saving the main Sperry Chalet. The firefighters remain on site, ARE SAFE, and are actively engaged in protecting the remaining structures.
  • Shelter: the Red Cross shelter for Sprague evacuees is located at Canyon Elementary School, 200 North Street, in Hungry Horse.

West Fork Fire

  • Location: 7 miles northwest of Libby
  • Size: 800 acres
  • Containment: zero percent
  • The Lincoln Co. Sheriff’s Office has issued a mandatory evacuation for residents in the 17 Mile community area of Pipe Creek Road, outside of Libby.
  • Pipe Creek Road is now closed from the 12 Mile Marker to the summit. Residents are asked to leave in an orderly and safe fashion.
  • The Pre-Evacuation Warning remains in effect for the upper end of Bobtail Road north of Bobtail Cutoff, Hutton Drive, Bobtail Cut-off including Winter Road and Whitetail Road, Pipe Creek Road from Forest Way including Lodge Pole Road, Blue Mountain Lookout Road and Doak Creek Road.
  • Shelter: Libby Assembly of God Church, 105 Collins Ave.

Liberty Fire (Arlee)

  • Location: 17 miles southeast of Arlee
  • Size: 16,788 acres
  • Containment: 22 percent
  • No evacuation warnings or orders are in effect at this time.

Blue Bay Fire

  • Location: Blue Bay, Flathead Lake
  • Size: 490 acres
  • Containment: 80 percent

Conrow Fire

  • Location: 7 miles northeast of Whitehall
  • Size: 2,727 acres
  • Containment : 95 percent