Rice Ridge Fire almost doubles in size to over 100,000 acres

At 10:45 p.m. Sunday it was mapped at 101,425 acres.

Rice Ridge Fire

Above: The Rice Ridge Fire. Image uploaded to InciWeb September 3, 2017. Uncredited.

(Originally published at 10:11 a.m. MDT September 4, 2017)

The Rice Ridge Fire just east of Seeley Lake, Montana, spread substantially Sunday, almost doubling in size. During a 10:45 mapping flight Sunday night, it was discovered that 48,531 acres had burned during the previous 24 hours bringing the total to 101,419 acres, achieving “megafire” status when it exceeded 100K acres. The blaze is 36 miles northeast of Missoula.

The west side of the fire near Seeley Lake did not change — the growth was on the north and east sides.

The key factors in the extreme fire behavior and spread on Sunday were the relative humidity and the wind. During the morning the wind was out of the south, which accounted for the growth on the north side. Then it slowly changed to be from the southwest and the west and by 9 p.m. was coming from the north.

Rice Ridge Fire map
The red line was the perimeter of the Rice Ridge Fire at 10:45 p.m. MDT September 3, 2017. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. Click to enlarge.

The relative humidity just north of the community of Seeley Lake reached 8 percent Sunday, while the temperature maxed out at 88 degrees with 6 to 12 mph winds gusting at 14 to 18. The forecast for Monday calls for more moderate conditions — 78 degrees, east winds at 10-13, and 21 percent relative humidity.

Rice Ridge Fire Montana fire map missoula
The map shows heat detected on wildfires in the Missoula area at 10:45 p.m. MDT September 3, 2017. Click to enlarge.

The objective on the fire is not to put it out or contain it, but to herd it around as necessary to protect private property and structures. On Sunday 737 personnel were assigned to the fire which so far has run up costs of almost $30 million.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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7 thoughts on “Rice Ridge Fire almost doubles in size to over 100,000 acres”

  1. It’s a shame this fire and a few others are as large as they are currently. They’re was ample opportunity to have had the Rice Ridge put to bed. Fire managers should be ashamed of themselves.

    1. MTresident:Who do you think you are and why do you think you can second guess fire managers who know a lot more about the situation than you do?

    2. @MT resident- Keep in mind the type of terrain this fire is in! Fire managers can’t put firefighters in an area where they can’t get them back out. Resources are stretched thin due to the number of major fires in the NW region burning right now. Every fire manager and firefighter out there is doing their best to stay alive and suppress the fire, but if their efforts are not good enough, feel free to vulunteer to help!

  2. I guess I should clarify.
    Before out of region fire managers were assigned this fire could and should have been wrapped up.
    I don’t need to vulunteer, I’m paid.

    1. So, MTresident. It appears from your comments that you were on the Rice Ridge fire at the onset. Is that correct? If you were not there, your comments are nothing more than uninformed personal opinions; which are not worth anything.

  3. Wow people! God bless the ppl risking their lives!!!! Thanks for all your efforts and all our best wishes from Idaho. Ignorance is bliss only to the ignorant.

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