Northwoods DNR Specialist At Site Of Large Montana Fire

Aug 9, 2017


A Woodruff-based DNR Wildfire Prevention Specialist is out west helping battle some large wildfires.

Catherine Koele is at Seeley Lake, Montana at what is known as the Rice Ridge fire...

".....early on at this fire I believe we had two others from Wisconsin. We do have other resources scattered throughout the area...and we also have three engines. I believe we will be restaffing those as well. It's an extremely dry season, but fairly typical for this time of the year. A lot of resources. We have a lot of fire season left. The majority of these fires will end when we have a season-ending event, which is also known as snow...."

The Rice Ridge Fire has burned just about 10,000 acres, with about 10 percent contained. Coele says the fire she is working has received a lot of attention...

"....up to today, it's been the number one fire in the nation and becomes a priority because it is threatening the town of Seeley Lake. It currently is just short of 10,000 acres. These are big fires, but there are bigger fires in more wilderness areas, but this is a high priority fire due to it's threatening the community....."

Coele says the typical assignment is 14 days, but she's unsure how long her stay will be due to the changing fire conditions.