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Monday
Sep042017

Winds drive Rice Ridge Fire to over 100k acres

The Rice Ridge Fire blows up near Copper Lake- MCSO photo (SEELEY)- The latest maps show the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake exploded in Sunday's dry, windy weather, nearly doubling in size to more than 100,000 acres.

It's now by far the largest fire burning in Western Montana and the biggest to be burning near population in Western Montana in more than a decade.

The lightning-caused fire had been growing steadily over the past weeks since it ignited in mid-July. But in the past few days it quickly passed 30,000, then 40,000 acres. By Sunday morning the fire topped 50,000 acres.

But the big run came yesterday as winds drove the fire east, forcing more evacuations in Powell County near Coopers Lake and north of Highway 200. 

The fire, which has been fought by a Type 2 Team since it began, will be turned over to one of the best fire teams in the Northern Rockies today, with Greg Poncin's crew coming on scene. Poncin's team has already had two successful deployments against the Lolo Peak Fire, and a history of dealing with some of the worst fires in Western Montana in recent years, including the Sawtooth Fire, Lolo Complex and last year's Roaring Lion Fire. 

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