West Range Fire near Buffalo, Wyoming

West Range Fire
West Range Fire along Highway 16 west of Buffalo, Wyoming, November 9, 2014. Photo by Jessica Reicks.

On Saturday November 8 the West Range Fire started five miles west of Buffalo, Wyoming, and eventually burned 1,170 acres near Highway 16 west of town, occasionally closing down the highway.

The occurrence of the fire late in the season made finding aerial resources very difficult. A helicopter was brought in from Fort Collins, Colorado, (271 air miles away) and dropped 65 loads of water on the blaze before strong winds grounded the ship. There is a report that fire crews constructed 12 miles of fireline on Saturday and Sunday.

Resources were brought in from seven counties, two Johnson County fire districts, and four state and federal agencies. Firefighters used sprinkler systems to protect two structures in the area as the fire came within about 50 feet of the houses.

Map West Range Fire

Snow moved in virtually putting out the fire and by Monday morning most of the firefighters had been demobilized.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Buffalo Bulletin.

…This was one fire everyone in town could watch from their front porch. People were digging around the closet to find those old binoculars so they could keep an eye on what was happening.

The fire started Saturday morning, and during the night those of us who wake up at odd hours to visit the commode could look out the window and see the flames burning down the sides of the mountain toward town. You “sound sleepers” missed quite a show.

Only in Wyoming can wildfire crews work in short sleeves one day and then learn they are snowed in and can’t go home the next morning.

Monday morning, they declared the fire was 95 percent contained. The Bench Sitters wondered who they sent out in that blizzard to find the 5 percent that was still burning.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “West Range Fire near Buffalo, Wyoming”

  1. Those comments were excerpted from the “Sagebrush Sven” column in the paper. The column is a topical opinion piece. Context is everything, so kudos to Don for his insight on short sleeves.

  2. Interesting reading the Buffalo Bulletin take on the West Range Fire. I have never seen fire fighters in short sleeves since the early 70’s.


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