By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Mullen Fire continued to grow in size overnight Tuesday, reaching 96,757 acres as of Wednesday morning.
There are now 887 personnel working to defend homes in and near the fire and more help will continue to arrive throughout the week, according to fire tracking website InciWeb. Firefighters worked throughout the night Tuesday to aggressively defend structures.
The fire was expected to be active Wednesday in the face of warm temperatures, winds gusting to 20 mph and low humidity.
Crews were working to slow fire progression along the North Platte River and a fleet of 20 aircraft have been critical in cooling the fire’s edge and assisting with structure protection.
Firefighters are also working to limit fire growth in key areas south of the fire such as Albany, Sheep Mountain, Highway 230 near Woods Landing, Foxborough, Fox Park, Rob Roy and the southwestern corner of the fire near Six Mile Campground.
“Because this fire is so large, we’re having to do some pretty strategic prioritization to try to limit spread and limit impact to infrastructure, values and risk and communities,” said Deon Steinle, operations section chief trainee for the Rocky Mountain Blue Team battling the flames.
Fire managers have been shifting resources between divisions as needed to responded to changing fire conditions. The fire is expected to move south to the Colorado border due to strong winds and various fuels in the forest.
Smoke was expected to fill the skies on Wednesday until the inversion breaks. Visibility will then increase with breezy north and northwest winds gusting up to 20 mph.
On Tuesday, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office announced that 38 property owners have lost property due to the fire, a total of 29 houses and 31 outbuildings in the lower Keystone, Lake Creek and Foxborough areas.