Seeley Lake reopens to boaters, swimmers

Seeley Lake reopens to boaters, swimmers

Source: Missoulian
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Boaters and swimmers can return to Seeley Lake, effective immediately.

The lake was closed Aug. 1 to allow firefighting planes to safely scoop water to battle the Rice Ridge fire. Although the fire is still burning, the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks said “there is not a need to restrict activity on the lake at this time.”

According to the InciWeb incident information site, the Rice Ridge fire is about 10 percent contained and covers nearly 13,000 acres. The scooper planes that had been used to fight the fire have been replaced by helicopters and other aircraft, the website stated.

Seeley Lake businesses that rely on tourism, especially in the summer months, had lamented the closure of the lake, even though they said they understood the need.

Reopening the lake could bring tourists back, although air quality in Seeley Lake continues to reach hazardous levels on an almost daily basis.

Up-to-date information on closures and restrictions related to drought and fire may be found at or by calling the FWP office in Missoula at 406-542-5500.

Blue Bay fire: The Blue Bay fire burning just east of Flathead Lake grew to 270 acres after adding 70 acres to its north flank Thursday.

Firefighters have been working to keep the fire from moving toward homes and Montana Highway 35. On Friday, they built fire line using bulldozers.

If the conditions are right, firefighters plan to use explosives to create some additional control lines in the next day or two. Contingency lines are being constructed on the north and west flanks in the event the fire moves in that direction.

With the support of aircraft, firefighters have been able to keep the fire from moving toward Tee Pee Creek on the southern flank of the fire.

Currently, there are no evacuation notices for residents living on the east shore of the lake. The B-2000 and and B-2200 roads are closed.

Sprague fire: The Sprague fire in Glacier National Park has burned over 519 acres.

All of the employees have now left Sperry Chalet, which is expected to be closed for the remainder of the season.

The Gunsight Pass Trail from Lake McDonald to Gunsight Pass, including secondary trails such as Snyder Lake and Mount Brown, and the Lincoln Lake Trail are closed to public use. Backcountry campgrounds at Snyder Lake, Sperry, Lake Ellen Wilson and Lincoln Lake are closed.

Other backcountry campgrounds closed in the park due to other fires including Logging Foot, Grace, Adair, Camas and Arrow. All front country campgrounds remain open.

Sunrise fire: Over the past two days, helicopters have dropped about 100,000 gallons of retardant on the north side of Trout Creek drainage on the green, unburnt side in hopes of slowing the spread of the 22,000-plus fire toward that community.

The fire is near the bottom of the slope in several areas.

Hand crews worked to tie in contingency lines north of town into machine lines constructed earlier. Engine crews patrolled the sawdust piles of the pellet mill for spot fires.

The areas in stage III evacuation include Upper Trout Creek, Lower Trout Creek, Quartz Creek, Cougar Meadows and Cougar Creek.

Liberty fire: Fire activity was minimal Thursday on the 5,671-acre Liberty fire.

That fire is now considered 90 percent contained.

There are currently 228 firefighters assigned to blaze. Many of those spent Friday monitoring the containment line on the northwest flank and working to finish excavator work north of Burnt Cabin. On the south side, heavy equipment was staged at strategic points in anticipation of increased fire activity in Gold Creek.

Meyers fire: The 14,141-acre Meyers fire remains only five percent contained.

There are currently 463 people assigned to the fire. Other resources include four helicopters, 12 bulldozers, two skidgines and two water tenders.

Contingency lines continue to be constructed on the northern flank. As they become available, heavy equipment and firefighters are being relocated east to speed the construction of the east/west line to protect the East Fork Reservoir and Georgetown Lake.

On Friday, crews were also focused on catching any new starts as a red flag warning increased the potential for active burning.

Sapphire Complex: This complex consists of the Goat Creek, Sliderock, and Little Hogback fires. Goat Creek is 83 percent contained and 100 percent completed line; Sliderock is 30 percent contained with continued indirect line of 5 more miles to complete with a production of 1/3 mile per day; and Little Hogback is 16 percent contained and 60 percent completed line.

The operation boundary is approximately 72 miles long. Heavy equipment and crews have been utilized to clear roadside vegetation along 14 miles of road in the fire area. In addition, 41 miles of the Rock Creek Road and Upper Willow Creek Road is in the process of being prepped for a burnout.