Information officers lay out long-term Rice Ridge Fire plan


MISSOULA, Mont. - The Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake exploded again overnight. It grew by more than 16,000 acres. Many nearby residents wonder when these nights of massive growth will stop.

The extended outlook for this fire is to contain the entire southern edge. Hotshot crews continue to work late into the night. The line is currently 38 percent contained. Crews say there's no containment plan for the north side of the fire. Information officers say it will take a season-ending weather event to take it out.

Meanwhile, Flathead Hotshot superintendent Shawn Borgen says they're doing everything they can to try to spare some of the landscape.

"We're using a combination of hand-lighting and aerial ignition and backing that fire down through that area to give it that mosaic burn pattern but not kill all the trees and not leave the people that live here with a big scar to look at for years, beyond what they're already going to have," Borgen said.

There's another Red Flag Warning until 8 p.m. Wednesday. We expect good news Thursday, though. Crews expect a weather altering event with some precipitation, including snow expected above 6,000 feet.

Then the focus will be keeping crews dry and warm while they continue to get a handle on the blaze.

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