The Rice Ridge Fire, burning in Missoula, Montana, since July 24, ballooned in size on Sunday, September 3, growing from 40,000 to 100,000 acres.
The governor has declared a state of emergency and the National Guard has been deployed.
Authorities said the fire was spreading unpredictably, prompting a mandatory evacuation order for the entire Coopers Lake region and evacuation warnings for neighboring areas. Much of the Seeley Lake region had already been evacuated.
Incident commander John Thompson told the The Missoulian they were dealing with “unprecedented conditions,” citing overnight growth as one of the most challenging barriers to containing the blaze. At the time of writing, only 7 percent of the fire was contained, according to government reports.
“I’d hate to say how many collective years of fire experience are on our team, but we’re all just scratching our heads because nothing’s working. Things we’d think normally would work aren’t working the way they should,” said Thompson.
As of Monday evening, there were 43 active fires are burning across the state of Montana.