Seeley Lake Montana

A firefighter on the Rice Ridge Fire

Early yesterday afternoon John Thompson, the incident commander on the Rice Ridge Fire outside Seeley Lake was getting ready for some big challenges.

“There is thunderstorm activity to the north of us, and thunder activity to the west of us," he said. "And one of the challenges of thunderstorms over a fire is the unpredictability of the winds that occur. It’s really hard to set up an operation when the wind is spinning 360 degrees over the span of ten to fifteen minutes.”

The Rice Ridge Fire public meeting in Ovando Tuesday
Nicky Ouellet

At last night’s public meeting on the Rice Ridge Fire in Ovando, John Thompson, the incident commander leading the charge against it, said Wednesday will be a big day.

"I'm gonna tell you straight up that tomorrow [Wed, 8/30] is probably going to be one of the most challenging days we have of this fire season," Thompson said.

A sign seen in Seeley Lake, MT August 29, 2017.
Nicky Ouellet

Last night, the Rice Ridge Fire grew 3,000 acres and forced evacuation orders for 1,100 homes in and around Seeley Lake. We sent reporter Nicky Ouellet to Seeley Lake to see the situation on the ground.

Eric Whitney: Nicky Ouellet, you spent the afternoon in Seeley Lake, where are you right now and what are you seeing?

Gary Ikerd and his wife Martha McManus (not pictured) at the University Congregational Church after being evacuated from their home in Seeley Lake due to the Rice Ridge Fire, August 29, 2017.
Edward O'Brien

An abrupt change in wind direction on the almost 31,000 acre Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake Monday  triggered a new round of evacuations, forcing hundreds from their homes.

A handful of evacuees wound up at the Red Cross Shelter at Missoula’s University Congregational Church.

Rice Ridge Fire activity in steep terrain, August 19, 2017.

Yesterday evening two new evacuation orders were issued for most of the east and south side of the town of Seeley Lake, affecting more than 500 homes.

Sara Rouse, an information officer for the Rice Ridge Fire says last night, the fire did not burn any homes.