SEELEY LAKE - The Rice Ridge Fire added another several thousand acres on Monday and has now burned over 118,500 acres.
Fire managers report the Rice Ridge fire and the Reef fire grew together towards the north in the Bob Marshall Wilderness adding the majority of increased fire acreage.
However, additional fire growth also occurred to the south from the Monture Cabin area east along Spread Creek, Upper McCabe Creek and West Fork Creek.
Firefighters also worked on a slopover below Forest Road 720 on the primary control line north of the town of Seeley Lake, and did line improvement throughout the Seeley Lake area, including the bottom of Morrell Creek.
A large spot fire to the east of the main fire (within the 1988 Canyon Creek fire scar) grew significantly in the North Fork of the Blackfoot River directly north of the North Fork Trailhead.
A community meeting to discuss that Rice Ridge fire will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 5 in the Ovando Elementary School Gym beginning at 6 p.m.
The evacuation orders issued over the weekend in Powell County remain in effect and includes the Monture Cabin area and all of the Coopers Lake area north and east of Ovando respectively.
The evacuation warning in continues to include all other areas of Powell County north of Highway 200 between the Missoula County line the Lewis and Clark County line.
The following areas are under a mandatory evacuation order in Missoula County:
The following areas are under a pre-evacuation warning:
Evacuation shelters are available in Seeley Lake at Camp Paxson on Boyscout Road and at the Ovando Elementary School Gymnasium. A Red Cross shelter site is located at the UCC Church, 405 University Avenue, in Missoula. Anyone seeking shelter may call the Red Cross of Montana at 1-800-272-6668.
For Missoula County animal sheltering call Missoula County Animal Control at (406) 541-7387 and leave a message.
Staffed fire information is available at the Seeley Lake Rural Fire Department, the Seeley Lake Post Office and Rovero’s Ace Hardware in Seeley Lake. Additional locations are being staffed at the Sinclair gas station on Highway 200 in Greenough at the Intersection of Highway 200 and Highway 209 east of Ovando, and at the Blackfoot Mercantile in Ovando.
Residents of the area should sign up for Smart911 at to ensure they receive messages about potential evacuations. Fire information can also be found by calling 258-INFO.
Big Larch Campground, Big Larch boat launch, Seeley Lake Campground boat launch, Canoe Trail and Seeley Lake waters all remain closed due to aerial operations related to the Rice Ridge Fire suppression efforts.
There are 787 people fighting the lightning sparked blaze which has cost an estimated $30.6 million to fight so far. There are still over 1,000 structures threatened by the Rice Ridge fire.