Firefighters fighting the Rice Ridge fire near Seeley Lake; Courtesy Inciweb

SEELEY LAKE – The growth on the Rice Ridge Fire slowed on Tuesday and now stands at over 119,800 acres burned.

Fire managers report the inversion lifted enough that by early Tuesday afternoon helicopters were able to deliver water along the northwest side of the fire, aiding the Flathead Hotshots and several dozers that were constructing fire line in that area.

Crews were able to continue line improvement east of the town of Seeley Lake. Particular attention in that area was to seal the fire line around several slopovers from previous days and continue to work in the Morrell Creek area where the fire line crosses the drainage.

Over 100 people attended a public meeting in Ovando last night. Upon further review, the fire immediately east of the main fire in the North Fork of the Blackfoot River (directly north of the North Fork Trailhead) may have been a holdover lightning fire rather than a spot fire from the main fire, according to fire officials.

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The following areas are under a mandatory evacuation order:

Northern Boundary:

The junction of Highway 83 and Cedar Lane northeast to Morrell Creek Road. The boundary continues along the Cottonwood Lakes Road east to the Forest Boundary.

Eastern Boundary:

Cottonwood Lakes Road at the Forest Boundary and south to the northern boundary of the Double Arrow.

Southern Boundary:

The junction of Highway 83 and Whitetail Drive east to the junction of Whitetail Drive and Dolly Varden. The southern boundary continues east to include the area north of the Commons Area and eastward to the intersection of Montana Drive and South Canyon Drive, continuing southeast along Montana Drive to the junction with Glacier Drive and then south to the junction with Double Arrow Road including Pyramid Loop and all areas in the Double Arrow Subdivision to the south and east.

Western Boundary:

The junction of Highway 83 and Cedar Lane south to the junction of Highway 83 and Whitetail Drive.

Powell County:

Monture Cabin area
All of the Coopers Lake area

The following areas are under a pre-evacuation warning:

The area from the south Boyscout Road north to Tamaracks Resort, west of Highway 83 and east of the lake
The junction of Highway 83 and Cedar Lane south to the junction of Highway 83 and Whitetail Drive.
The Big Sky and Emerald Lake areas
All properties from the intersection of Woodworth Road and Highway 83, East to Skilly Drive
All properties north of Woodworth Road
Both sides of Highway 83 N. from Tamarack Resort to Bear Grass, extending to Bear Grass Lane.
Loon Lane
Camp Creek.
Both sides of Boy Scout Road to the Fawn Creek intersection.
All other areas of Powell County north of Highway 200 between the Missoula County line the Lewis and Clark County line.

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.

There are 686 people fighting the lightning sparked blaze which has cost an estimated $31.6 million to fight so far. There are still over 1,000 structures threatened by the Rice Ridge fire.