Fire activity increases in Wyoming

Above: Fawn Fire in Yellowstone National Park, August 6, 2016. NPS photo.

Originally published at 5:23 p.m. MDT August 11, 2016.

map wildfires Wyoming
Wildfires in northwest Wyoming August 11, 2016. Click to enlarge.

There are five wildfires currently active in northwest Wyoming.

Twin Lakes Fire
Twin Lakes Fire. Inciweb photo.

The Babaganoush Fire has been renamed the Twin Lakes Fire, we assume because no one could pronounce or spell the name. It was reported on August 8 but has been very active over the last 24 hours growing to about 1,400 acres 35 miles southwest of Meeteetse. A Type 2 incident management team has been ordered.

The Hunter Peak Fire was reported on August 9 about 16 miles southeast of the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park, three miles south of the intersection of US Highway 212 and the Chief Joseph Highway. It has burned about 1,700 acres and required some evacuations; 95 structures are threatened. Todd Pechota’s Type 1 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire at 6 a.m. Thursday.

The Whit Fire 13 miles west of Cody been burning for nine days and did not increase in size on Wednesday. It has blackened over 12,000 acres and still has quite a bit of heat in the southwest portion. (Our previous article about the Whit Fire.)

There are two fires in Yellowstone National Park. The Fawn Fire is in the backcountry in the northwest section of the park 10 miles west of Mammoth and the north entrance. This 930-acre fire is being monitored from the air and was quite active Wednesday.

Fawn Fire,
Fawn Fire, August 8, 2016. NPS photo.

The other fire in the park is the Maple Fire which has burned about 100 acres 8 miles northeast of the community of West Yellowstone. It also was active Wednesday evening in a large expanse of the scar left by the 1988 North Fork Fire. It will be managed under a monitoring and point-protection strategy providing fire managers a unique opportunity to study current fire behavior in the 1988 fire scar.

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.

Continue reading “The spread of the Whit Fire west of Cody, WY slows”