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.

Wyoming: Oil Creek fire grows to 20,000 acres, Osage evacuated

Oil Creek Fire, 0014 am MT, July 3, 2012
Oil Creek Fire, 12:14 a.m., MT, July 3, 2012. ESRI/USFS

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.


(We posted updated information about the Oil Creek fire on July 4, 2012.)


The Oil Creek fire northwest of Newcastle has grown to approximately 20,000 acres, according to the Wyoming State Forestry Division. The map above (which can be found at ESRI’s web site) shows the perimeter as detected by a fixed wing infrared mapping aircraft at 12:14 a.m. MT, July 3, 2012.

The map below shows the same perimeter, but also indicates by the red dots with white squares, heat detected by a satellite at 12:50 p.m. MT, July 3, 2012. It shows that the fire spread approximately another three miles farther north during the previous 12-hour period.

Oil Creek Fire, 12:50 p.m. MT, July 3, 2012
Oil Creek Fire, 12:50 p.m. MT, July 3, 2012. MODIS/Google

The Wyoming State Forestry Division reported that the town of Osage was evacuated on Monday, affecting 425 people. Highway 16 closed for a while but reopened. Numerous structures are threatened and one barn has burned. The fire is 20% contained. Information number: 307-746-2614.

Wyoming: Oil Creek Fire

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.


(We posted updated information about the Oil Creek fire on July 4, 2012.)


Posted at 1:55 p.m. MT, July 1, 2012

We will attempt to gather more information about the Oil Creek fire just northwest of Newcastle, Wyoming today, but here is a map and some preliminary data.

Map of Oil Creek Fire, 11:23 a.m. MT, July 1, 2012
Map of Oil Creek Fire, 11:23 a.m. MT, July 1, 2012, showing heat detected by a satellite. MODIS/Google

The information below is from the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center at 4:30 p.m. June 30, 2012, at which time the fire had burned 4,500 acres:

Significant Events: Pre-evacuation is being conducted for the western sub-divisions and areas of Newcastle for approximately 750 to 1000, Currently 20 structures immediately threatened.

Remarks: Back-up or secondary power lin/transmission line for the town of Newcastle has been destroyed. Primary transmission line immediately threatened. Immediate threat to 20 structures. Pre-evacuations for western parts of Newcastle including the area north of HWY 16 and west of the Dog Pound Rd. Approximately 750 to 1000 people on pre-evacuation notice.

Observed Fire Behavior: Experiencing high to extreme fire behavior with moderate spotting up to 1/2 mile.

Planned Actions: Point protection of homes, Newcastle Wyoming, Mondell Field Airport, HWY 16, primary transmission line.


Post Number 1: The Beginning

Fire east of Cody, Wyoming September 4, 2008
Fire east of Cody, Wyoming, Sept. 4, 2007. Photo By Bill Gabbert

As the new year begins, so does Wildfire Today. I hope, with this web site, to bring to light some of the current issues, news, and hot interesting topics in the world of wildland fire. Events and issues affecting wildland firefighters around the world will be written about in these pages. If you have news that you think would be of interest to other firefighters, send me an email, or put it in a comment at the end of a post.