Rice Ridge fire: Seeley Lake reopened to recreation

The building smoke column, visible from Seeley Lake, Friday afternoon was from the eastern portion of the fire pushing east towards Nome Point. (inciweb.com)

Seeley Lake waters were opened to boating and other recreation on Friday, after incident commanders at the Rice Ridge fire said they no longer needed the water for aerial firefighting.

The lake has been under a temporary emergency closure since Aug. 1 while specially designed planes scooped water from the lake to fight the fire.

The 12,861-acre fire remains active, and suppression efforts continue, but there is not a need to restrict activity on the lake at this time, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

As were their counterparts at other western Montana wildfires, crews at Rice Ridge were preparing for potential fire growth on Friday, with high winds in the forecast as a cold front moves into the region.

Fire managers planned to continue firing operations along Morrell Mountain, and retardant planes were on standby to help both crews fighting the fire and those involved with the burnouts.

Crews along the western and northern portion of the fire continued to monitor fire activity. Additionally, fire crews were maintaining hose lays and pumps to support holding and suppression efforts along the indirect line. Fuels reduction on the north and east side of the Double Arrow Ranch continued as well.

For up-to-date information on recreational restrictions related to drought and fire, visit fwp.mt.gov/news/restrictions/ or call the FWP office in Missoula at 406-542-5500.