Most Allowed Back Home in Seeley Lake, Rice Ridge Fire Cost Up To $38 Million
The Rice Ridge fire near Seeley Lake is closing in on a total firefighting cost of $38 million and is over 135,000 acres in size, making it the second most expensive fire in Montana history. Fire Information Officer Nicole Stickney says the fire actually grew relatively slowly over the weekend.
"Over the weekend, the growth really kinda slowed down there for a couple days: we were actually only gaining about 1,000 acres of growth per day, which considering the perimeter of this fire, is relatively small," Stickney said. "We went to 132,000 acres, most of that acreage actually came when the Rice Ridge Fire in the south-east corner grew into a spot fire."
That “spot fire” may actually have been a new fire as lightning reports show a strike in that area. Some really good news for local residents occurred Sunday, when many were let back into their homes.
"Evacuation Zone 2 and 3 got lifted yesterday morning [Sunday, September 10] at 8 a.m. so that pretty much put the entire population of this town back into their homes, if they so choose, obviously they are still in evacuation warning," Stickney said. "The only area that was not lifted was zone 4, which is directly north, where the airport is and the rifle range, and there are only about six residences up there."
Total containment of the Rice Ridge Fire is currently at eight percent.