By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Mullen Fire grew to nearly 15,000 acres by Wednesday morning despite the efforts of helicopters dropping thousands of gallons of water on the flames in the Medicine Bow National Forest.
According to fire tracking website Inciweb, helicopters delivered more than 22,000 gallons of water on Tuesday, which supported the work of the firefighters on the ground by cooling the fire’s edge and slowing its spread rate.
Fixed wing aircraft, including CL-415 scoopers and smaller scooping aircraft, were also used on the east side of the fire in the Rambler area.
The fire has currently affected 14,653 acres and only 2% has been contained. The estimated containment date is Oct. 30.
Lake Hattie is closed to watercraft effective immediately to allow for specialized aircraft to collect water from the lake to help with suppression efforts, according to an announcement from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Fire managers have assigned personnel and other resources to focus on assets at risk, such as evacuated communities of Rambler, Keystone, Lake Creek, the Rob Roy Reservoir area and the city of Cheyenne water supply.
Structure protection groups are in each community, clearing brush and installing sprinkler systems to prepare structures for possible fire progression. Engines and hand crews are working on the western edge to secure the fire perimeter to prevent spread to the west onto private property.
In other areas, fire managers are scouting the terrain for opportunities where firefighters can successfully slow fire progression.
Dry dead and down fuels, low humidity and gusty winds have contributed to active fire behavior, even throughout Tuesday night. Later this week, fire weather is expected to become critical with strong west/southwest winds, very low humidity and above normal temperatures.
The Lake Creek, Rambler, Rob Roy and Keystone communities and the 507C cabin grouping have been evacuated.
A pre-evacuation notice has been issued for the private land along Fox Creek Road, the Albany and Centennial communities extending northwest along Highway 130 and all areas west of Highway 11 in the valley.
A temporary flight restriction is now in effect for the fire area, which applies to all private aircraft, including drones.
Nearly 200 people were working the fire as of Wednesday.