By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Mullen Fire grew again overnight, reaching nearly 130,000 acres as of Friday morning.
The fire has affected 127,503 acres, according to fire tracking website InciWeb. More than 1,000 personnel are working to slow the fire’s spread and protecting valuables at risk all over the fire area.
Fire managers expected another day of active fire behavior on Friday, thanks largely breezy winds.
On Thursday, firefighters conducted a successful burnout operation along the north sides of the Colorado Highways 125 and 127 to block the fire’s advance to the south by removing fuels from the roadsides.
When conditions are favorable either Friday or sometime over the weekend, firefighters will continue burnout operations to remove additional fuels between the roads and the main body of the fire. Those burnouts may include aerial firing operations.
Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team spokesman John Peterson told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that firefighters would see more active fire conditions and that red flag conditions were predicted for the day.
He added that the crews didn’t believe the Mullen Fire would end up merging with the Cameron Peak Fire currently burning down in Colorado, which is about 30 miles away from the southernmost portion of Mullen.
“We have been really doing some prep in the three-way area where Wyoming Highway 230 turns into Colorado Highway 125,” Peterson said. “That’s where the fire is moving right now. Everywhere else has been pretty static.”
Peterson said crews were hoping to keep the fire at bay at its current point in Colorado, which it crossed into earlier this week.
In other areas of the fire, burnout operations are also planned along roads, fire lines and natural features to limit the fire’s spread.
On Thursday night, the main body of the fire was active north of the two Colorado highways and out of an abundance of caution, the sheriff of Jackson County, Colorado, called for an additional mandatory evacuation in the area of Highway 127.
The weather over the weekend is predicted to be much cooler on Saturday, with gusty northwest winds and increased cloud cover. Warmer conditions are expected to return Sunday and Monday, with winds shifting to come from the west.