080317-mis-nws-rice-aerial-01 (copy)

A converted DC-10 jumbo jet drops a load of retardant on the Rice Ridge fire near Seeley Lake in early August. A parade of aircraft worked on the edges of the fire throughout the day.

The evacuation warning along U.S. Highway 12 near the Lolo Peak fire has been expanded to include roughly 60 more residences in the area.

On Friday evening, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office extended the evacuation warning to include homes on the north and south sides of the road from Fort Fizzle west to mile marker 20 at Bear Creek.

A red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service that will last until Sunday evening is expected to impact fires across western Montana. Firefighters expect the Lolo Peak fire will increase in intensity over the weekend with gusty conditions in the forecast.

Primary containment lines along the southwest edge of the fire have been finished, and a night shift has been added to patrol the Highway 12 area. Drivers are asked not to stop along the highway to look at the fire, as it creates a safety hazard.

Air quality should improve on Sunday after increased fire activity Saturday will put out more smoke that will settle in the Bitterroot Valley overnight.

Rice Ridge fire: Firefighters are working to strengthen containment lines, and will have additional overnight staff on hand during the red flag warning. A cold front moving into the area on Sunday will bring gusty winds and a 50 percent chance of rain.

A community meeting for the Rice Ridge fire will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at Seeley Lake Elementary. For anyone not able to attend, the meeting will also be streamed live on the Lolo National Forest Facebook page.

Sunrise fire: Firefighters are continuing burnouts on the north side of the Quartz, Cougar and Trout Creek drainages to reduce available fuel for the blaze. Engine crews are patrolling the area for new spot fires, with other firefighters securing the perimeter around homes in the area. Trout Creek Road from Magone Ranch (near Pellet Mill) southwest through the fire area was placed under a Stage III evacuation order Saturday morning, meaning residents should immediately leave, according to InciWeb. Riverbend, Lozeau, Forest Grove, Quartz Creek, Cougar Gulch, Sunrise Flats and Verde Creek are in Stage II evacuation. Residents along Diamond Match Road from the overpass and junction with Forest Road 7798 to the Magone Ranch are also in Stage II evacuation.

Meyers fire: Crews continue to make process on containment lines around the fire, with helicopters being used to douse hotspots to keep the fire from growing on priority areas near structures. Line construction will be focused on the area south of Georgetown Lake over the weekend.

There were no major developments on the Sapphire Complex or Liberty fire.

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