The Rice Ridge fire is burning just outside of Seeley Lake. (US Forest Service photo)
(US Forest Service photo)

MISSOULA – The Rice Ridge Fire burning three miles from Seeley Lake grew dramatically on Monday and has now blazed through nearly 4,000 acres.

The growth of the fire has prompted authorities to issue an evacuation warning for residents on both sides of Highway 83 south of Rice Ridge Road and immediately south of Cottonwood Lakes Road– east of Highway 83.

The evacuation warning means that residents in the area should be prepared in case they are asked to quickly leave the area.

Cottonwood Road has been closed to the public and there will be a lot of equipment and a great deal of activity along that road Tuesday as additional crews arrive to fight the blaze.

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Fire managers reported that the Rice Ridge Fire saw extreme fire weather on Monday and has pushed to two miles of Cottonwood Lake Road and within four miles of Highway 83.

Smoke was visible throughout the day and settled into the valley overnight causing air quality to be listed as hazardous on Tuesday.