The spread of the Whit Fire west of Cody, WY slows

(UPDATED at 11:25 a.m. MDT August 5, 2016)

Whit Fire
Whit Fire August 3, 2016. Photo by Charlie Springer.

The Whit Fire 13 miles west of Cody, Wyoming was much less active Thursday than the day before. According to the aerial mapping during the last two nights it grew on the southwest and northeast sides by a total of several hundred acres, but the incident management team is still calling it 9,647 acres. The discrepancy could be related to issues with the imagery Wednesday night.

One home and seven outbuildings have been destroyed in the fire.

Whit Fire map
Map of the Whit Fire as detected by aerial mapping. The white line was the estimated perimeter at 10 p.m. MDT August 3, 2016. The red line was the perimeter at 12:30 a.m. MDT on August 5, 2016.

On Thursday two water-scooping air tankers, CL-415’s, were delighting tourists that were on US Highway 16 driving past the Buffalo Bill Reservoir on the way to Yellowstone National Park. The aircraft were skimming along the water surface loading about 1,600 gallons into their tanks and then flying to the fire, assisting firefighters by dropping water to slow the spread. The reservoir is only six miles from the fire, which enabled quick turnarounds.

CL-415 Buffalo Bill Reservoir
Air tanker 263, a CL-415, scoops water from the Buffalo Bill Reservoir at 8:01 p.m. MDT on August 4, 2016 while working the Whit Fire. 

At times the vehicles stopped on or near the roadway created a safety hazard. Kristie Salzmann, a spokesperson for the fire, said law enforcement is now actively discouraging that practice. There are other locations that can be used safely, including various locations in the state park, and the boat launch which is closed since no boaters are allowed on the lake while the scoopers are working. The same aircraft are expected to be assigned to the fire on Friday.

Whit Fire
Whit Fire August 3, 2016. InciWeb photo.

Todd Pechota’s Type 1 incident management team assumed command of the fire at 6 a.m. on Friday.

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(Originally published at 9:52 a.m. MDT August 4, 2016)

map Whit Fire
Vicinity map of the Whit Fire, August 4, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The Whit Fire 13 miles west of Cody, Wyoming has forced evacuations south of US Highway 14 in the rural area near Buffalo Bill Reservoir 28 air miles east of the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The fire was reported at 2:20 p.m. on August 2 and grew rapidly on Wednesday August 3 on both sides of Sheep Mountain. Fire managers were not able to accurately estimate the size of the blaze, reporting Wednesday evening that it had burned 3,000 acres, but a mapping flight at 10 p.m. determined that it had spread to 9,647 acres.

Whit Fire
Whit Fire. Undated/uncredited photo on InciWeb.

The strategy is to fully suppress the fire. Resources assigned include 5 type 1 helicopters, 2 Type 3 helicopters, 3 air attack planes, 18 engines, and 3 hand crews, for a total of approximately 175 personnel.

3-D map Whit Fire
3-D map of the Whit Fire, looking west at 10 p.m. MDT August 3, 2016.

A Type 1 incident management team led by Todd Pechota is due to report to the fire at noon today.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Thursday predicts a high of 79 degrees, relative humidity of 17 percent, and 10 to 14 mph east winds gusting to 20 mph. Friday should be about the same except the wind will be variable at 3 to 11 mph.

As of Thursday morning August 4, US Highway 14 between Cody and Yellowstone National Park is open. Current status of highways in Wyoming can be checked at the Wyoming Department of Transportation website.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

4 thoughts on “The spread of the Whit Fire west of Cody, WY slows”

  1. The fire as a long ways east of the Blackwater Memorial. It is only about 14 miles West of Cody. Not in the Forest. It is up the South Fork as well as up the North Fork. We are some of the ones that evacuated up the South Fork.

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