Although containment of the 147,127-acre Mullen Fire has increased to from 6% to 14% over the past 24 hours, worsening weather conditions will make the fire more difficult to battle over the next few days.
The problem is something people in the Rocky Mountain West would normally embrace this time of year: above-average temperatures and no precipitation. But this year we need the opposite.
“We are in no way out of the woods on this on this fire. And we really need a significant weather change to really change the dynamic of this fire,” Russ Bacon, Forest Supervisor of the Medicine Bow National Forest, said.
Unfortunately, a change in the weather is not going to happen this week. Expect more of the same. Above average temperatures, no precipitation, and windy.
“The winds are going to be cranking at 35 – 40mph around the fire,” Rocky Mountain Blue Team Incident Meteorologist Sean Redmond said.
“And then rinse, wash, repeat. No relief this week. The fire is going to be very active this week,” he said.
As a result, much of the groundwork the firefighters have done to protect structures will be tested.
“A lot of the lines we spent time preparing for, a lot of the structure-protection work we did like removing fuels, getting firewood and burnable materials as far away as possible. A lot of that is getting tested right now,” Incident Commander Michael Hayden said.
“All the planning that went into place, at least in most of these areas, we feel we’re ready for it,” he said.
He said a top priority is to get people back in their properties when it’s safe. But, despite outward appearances it’s not safe yet, he said mentioning the Woods Landing area.
“The problems we’re having right now is this fire is directly aiming right back down [to the location],” he said. “And if we can hold Highway 230 and Highway 127, that’s when we really start to make that area safe for people to go back into.”
There could be some relief on the horizon as a change in the weather pattern is possible next weekend. Cooler temperatures and possibly some precipitation could be in store.