By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest continued to burn and grow Thursday, expanding to affect 19,526 acres by Friday morning.
Friday was expected to be an active fire day, according to updates on the fire tracking website “InciWeb.” Weather conditions were expected to be similar to Thursday’s, with warm temperatures and strong, gusty winds that could promote the fire. A “red flag” warning for fire danger was in effect for the forest again Friday.
Firefighters expected to see “significant” growth on Friday, especially on the east and northeast edges of the fire, and strong winds were predicted to hamper air operations. Structure protection crews were working to defend homes and structures in evacuated areas.
Fire and Albany and Carbon county officials were coordinating efforts to ensure the public was aware of rapidly changing fire conditions.
On Thursday there was significant activity on all sides of the fire, which was pushed by strong southwest winds with gusts to 30 mph that continued well into the night.
Winds were very strong on the fire’s north, southeast and east flanks, so firefighters were unable to slow fire’s advance.
On the east side, the fire ran to the southern edge of Rob Roy Reservoir. The southern tip of the fire moved to the east, crossing the 512 Road and approaching the Keystone communities.
As fire activity intensified, many firefighters moved to successfully defend structures in the Rambler community and the Keystone area.
Friday is the first of several days of strong gusty winds associated with a strong cold front passing through the area this weekend.
Forecasts called for west-southwest winds to continue, with gusts up to 40 mph. As a result, firefighters expected the fire’s spread to continue.
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.
The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Friday. Only 2% has been contained and the estimated containment date is Oct. 30.
The total number of personnel working the fire has again grown, this time to 367.