Detailed assessment reveals 52 structures destroyed on fire near Casper

Map Sheep Herder Hill Fire 09-13-12
Map of the Sheep Herder Hill Fire 09-13-12. The red line is uncontrolled fire edge, while the black indicates completed fireline.

The incident management team running the Sheep Herder Hill Fire 5 miles southeast of Casper, Wyoming, while emphasizing that many structures have been saved, announced that 36 residences and 16 outbuildings are confirmed as destroyed. The team is calling the 15,416-acre fire 50 percent contained.

Some evacuations have been lifted, but they are still in effect for approximately 150 homes, with another 750 on advisory alert.

Assigned to the fire are 354 personnel, six hand crews, 4 helicopters, and 2 single engine air tankers.

Spread of fire near Casper slows

DC-10 drops on Sheep Herder Hill fire on Monday
Tanker 911, a DC-10, drops on the Sheep Herder Hill Complex near Casper on Monday. Photo by Alan Rogers, Casper Star-Tribune. Used with permission. (click to enlarge)

This spectacular photo of Air Tanker 911, a DC-10, dropping on the Sheep Herder Hill Complex near Casper, Wyoming was taken by Alan Rogers of the Casper Star-Tribune yesterday. The photo, along with the video we posted on September 10, tends to disprove the assertions that the Very Large Air Tankers can only be used in “flat or gently-rolling terrain”.

The Casper Star-Tribune has several other photos of the interior of the DC-10 on their web site along with an article about the aircraft. We thank Mr. Rogers for allowing us to use this excellent photograph.

The fire, which became known as the Sheep Herder Hill Complex when a new fire started a couple of miles away Monday night, grew by about 600 acres on Tuesday to a total of 15,887 acres, according to Neal Kephart, a spokesperson for the fire. The Type 2 Incident Management Team led by Incident Commander Todd Pechota took over management of the new fire, named Elkhorn, and aggressively attacked it Monday and Tuesday with engines, aircraft, and smokejumpers, stopping the spread after it burned 8 acres.

Map of Sheep Herder Hill Complex, September 11, 2012.
Map of Sheep Herder Hill Complex, September 11, 2012. ESRI

Evacuations are still in effect for 150 homes, and another 800 are threatened, according to Mr. Kephart.

Firefighters are getting a break from the weather today, with a forecast for a high temperature of 67 degrees and a 7 to 9 mph wind out of the east and northeast. The relative humidity will bottom out at 21%.

The DC-10 and Tanker 40, a BAe-146, are still parked at the Casper airport 15 miles northeast of the fire along with 4 single engine air tankers, but as of 11:30 a.m. today had not been used yet today.

Other resources on the fire include 7 helicopters (4 large Type 1s, and 3 smaller Type 3s), 17 engines, 4 dozers, and 292 personnel. Two of the helicopters are from the National Guard.


Fire near Casper burns structures and 15,000 acres

Sheep Herder Hill Fire, Photo by Wyoming State Forestry Division
Sheep Herder Hill Fire, Sept. 10, 2012. Photo by Wyoming State Forestry Division

A lightning-caused wildfire 5 miles south of Casper, Wyoming has burned 15,284 acres south of the city on Casper Mountain. According to the National Situation Report seven structures have been destroyed.

The fire started at 4:30 p.m. on September 9, and grew quickly. A Rocky Mountain Region Type 2 Incident Management Team with Incident Commander Todd Pachota was dispatched to the fire on Monday.

Approximately 150 homes, including 400 residents, have been evacuated.

Map of Sheep Herder Hill fire
Map of Sheep Herder Hill fire, 4:27 a.m., September 11, 2012. The city of Casper is located at the icon for I-25.

On Monday Air Tanker 911, a DC-10, left Sacramento with a load of fire retardant, flew to the fire and dropped 11,600 gallons, then landed at the Casper airport, only 15 miles northwest of the fire. It had to sit there for a while as thunderstorms passed over, then it reloaded and dropped on the fire again, for a total of 23,200 gallons. The ship could be an awesome weapon at that fire with very fast turnarounds, dropping 11,600 gallons each time.

The weather on Tuesday will be more moderate than the last two days. The cloud cover will increase to 74% by noon, high temperature will be 75, the humidity will bottom out at 21%, and the winds will be northeast shifting to the northwest at 8 to 14, with gusts to 21 by late afternoon.

A live web cam feed can be found at K2Radio. You have to manually refresh the page to obtain updated images.

The video below is a time-lapse showing the smoke from the fire on Sunday. Unfortunately a tree partially blocks the view.

UPDATE at 12:47 p.m. MT, September 11, 2012:

The Incident Management Team has posted a map of the fire at their InciWeb web site.

Wyoming: a little rains slows the Oil Creek Fire

Oil Fire briefing
Morning briefing at the Oil Fire. Photo by WIMT 5.

Morning briefings for firefighters about to go out on the fireline usually involve half-awake men and women cradling cups of coffee standing around a truck or a hastily-erected plywood bulletin board onto which a map has been taped, as the fire overhead tells them what they will be doing that day. But if the Incident Command Post is located at a county fairgrounds, more elaborate accommodations may be available, such as the grandstand in the photo above.

The Oil Creek fire received a small amount of rain Thursday night, but enough to qualify as a “wetting rain”, which should slow down the spread of the fire for a little while. A weather station in Newcastle about three miles away measured 0.02″. Most of the vigorous thunderstorms that prompted flash flood warnings for the White Draw fire area bypassed the Oil Creek Fire to the south.

The fire has grown to about 61,000 acres and is being fought by 719 personnel, 5 helicopters, 14 dozers, 6 water tenders, and 61 assorted wildland and structural engines.

InciWeb has more details about evacuations, which are being re-evaluated today.

Wyoming fires, July 5, 2012

Engine strike team, California, Oil Creek Fire, Wyoming
Engine strike team from California at the Oil Creek Fire in Wyoming. Photo by Linda Hecker.

Wyoming has a boatload of active wildfires. We have information on all of them below, but first here is a map of the northeast corner of the Oil Creek fire which is burning northwest of Newcastle, Wyoming. Firefighters are working on holding the north end of the fire at Skull Creek Road and Oil Creek Road. This fire perimeter was current as of 10:15 p.m. MT, July 4, 2012. The incident management team has been updating InciWeb on a regular basis, but when we posted this map it was more current than the map on InciWeb.

Oil Creek Fire map

UPDATE: July 6, 2012: We posted an update on the Oil Creek fire HERE.


The Wyoming State Forestry Division has created a site to provide fire information and have been updating it every day with. Here are some excerpts they posted Thursday morning:


Active Incidents – Wyoming

Ghost, Crook  County, 10 miles W/SW of Sundance, Wyoming.  Fire started on 7/3/12.  The fire is estimated at 1,000+ acres.  The fire is currently managed by a local Type III organization.  Firefighters from Crook County, US Forest Service, and Wyoming State Forestry Division are on scene.  The cause of the fire is unknown.  The fire is 85 % contained.

Bear Cub, Buffalo District, Bridger Teton National Forest.  The fire was reported on 7/3/12.  The fire is estimated at 4,000 acres.  The fire is within the wilderness boundary.  There are no structures threatened.  The cause of the fire is undetermined.  For more information please see: Bear Cub

Ash Creek, Sheridan County, near Ranchester, WY and the Montana border.  Fire started on 7/3/12.  The fire is estimated at 200 acres.  Local resources from Sheridan County are managing the incident.  The cause of the fire is unknown.

Arapaho, Albany County, 60 miles North of Laramie, Wyoming.  Fire started on 6/27/12.  Estimated 93,505 acres, burning in timber.  Suspected lightning caused.   Over 300 homes and cabins have been evacuated, with a confirmed loss of approximately 30 structures.  A Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing the incident.  Cooperating Agencies: Albany County, Converse County, Platte County, USFS, State of Wyoming. 32% contained.  For more information see Arapaho Fire

Squirrel – Albany County, 4 miles west/northwest of Woods Landing, 2 miles south/southeast of Lake Owen.  Fire started 6/30/2012 in the Squirrel Creek drainage on the Medicine Bow National Forest, Laramie Ranger District; approx. 2 miles south/southeast of Lake Owen and 3 -4 miles west/northwest of Woods Landing, Wyoming.  10,169 acres.  Mixed conifer and beetle killed timber in the Squirrel Creek drainage.  Cause is unknown. The fire is being managed by a Type I IMT.  Containment is estimated at 51%. Three outbuildings and one residence have been destroyed.  No injuries.

The Albany County Sheriff’s Office has LIFTED the Evacuation Notice for areas east of Sheep Mountain to Harmony Lane, and south of Lake Hattie. Includes area northwest of Lake Hattie to Hwy 130. Road closures are in effect on Highway 230 from the Colorado State Line to Woods Landing. Pre-evacuation notices remain in effect for residents of Fox Park and Albany.  A public meeting was held 7-3-12, and was well attended. Further information may be obtained by calling: (307) 746-2614. For more information see Squirrel Creek

Oil Creek, Fire in Weston County was reported on 6/29/2012.  Located west of Newcastle. The fire moved aggressively  into the night, but away from the Town of Newcastle. Has grown to an estimated 60,716+ acres on state, BLM and private lands.  A type II incident management team has taken over management of the fire, 521 personnel.  Aircraft: Five type 1, one type 2 and two type 3 helicopters are assigned.  Equipment: 11 dozers, 6 water tenders and 49 assorted wild land and structural protection engines are on scene today. 40% containment. No Injuries.

Evacuations:  Level 2 evacuations remain in place along Skull Creek Rd. (14), Elk Grove Trail (7), Ertman Rd. (6) and all residences within the fire perimeter.  Level 1 evacuation remains in effect for Osage, Newcastle and along Hwy 16 between Newcastle and Osage.  Trigger points have been identified in the event additional evacuations become necessary. Residents of Osage were allowed to go home 7-4-2012, but remain at Level 1 pre evacuation notice.

Fontenelle, NW of LaBarge, Lincoln  and Sublette County.  Kemmerer Ranger District of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, 17 miles west of Big Piney. The fire began started 6-24-12. The fire NF is burning in both Lincoln and Sublette Counties west of LaBarge and Big Piney.  The fire is estimated at approximately 57,324 acres. A Great Basin Incident Management Team is managing the fire.   There are some state sections in the area, including the section  with the Denbury Helium Plant.  842 personnel,  No structures are reported lost at this time.  Containment is at 16%. More Information: InciWeb

Index Creek,  Park County, Wyoming, 5 miles SE of Cooke City, MT.  The fire is burning on the Shoshone National Forest and is estimated  at 220 acres, burning in spruce/fir and logging slash.  45% contained. The fire was caused by a downed power line and was reported on June 26, 2012.  For more information at InciWeb.

Wyoming: Oil Creek Fire doubles in size

UPDATE: July 6, 2012: We posted an update on the Oil Creek fire HERE.


We posted updated information about the Oil Creek fire July 5, 2012.


The Oil Creek fire 2 miles northwest of Newcastle, Wyoming doubled in size  Tuesday. Responding to Red Flag weather conditions and strong winds from a thunderstorm the fire ran to the north to Skull Creek Road adding another 34,000 acres, bringing the total to approximately 56,000 acres.

These maps show the perimeter from Monday night and the perimeter at 12:07 a.m. Wednesday.

Oil Creek Fire map

map North side Oil Creek Fire

The town of Osage was evacuated on Monday, affecting 425 people. As of 5 p.m. on Tuesday the fire was 20 percent contained. Firefighters could not get out ahead of the rapidly moving fire, but they were able to do some effective work using flanking tactics.