By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Although firefighters on the Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest were dealing Sunday with brisk winds from the northwest, officials were confident that the fire’s leading northeastern edge would be contained by Monday.
John Wallace, operations section chief for the Type I fire command team in charge of battling the flames, said during a morning briefing on the fire that while winds expected to gust to 55 mph Sunday could create problems near the Albany area, he believed conditions were favorable enough to halt the fire’s spread by Monday.
“Today, this northwest wind is really going to test this area (near Albany),” he said. “The firefighters on the ground are really not anticipating any issues with holding this. This area is really cold, it’s really doing good. So after this really good northwest wind, I think you’ll probably see this area of the fire contained (Monday).”
Wallace said the winds could also create some challenges for firefighters working to contain a “finger” of the fire burning north of Woods Landing. However, he added firefighters have been working for four days to prepare for such conditions.
“We put a lot of work in over the last four day sot make sure this would not be a factor today,” he said. “This is probably one of our most critical holding points today.”
As of Sunday morning, the fire involved about 175,535 acres and Wallace said the fire grew by only about 500 acres on Saturday.
“Five hundred acres of growth in one day on a fire this size is really pretty insigificant,” he said.
Firefighters have completed a containment line around about 25% of the fire, according to the latest daily “fact sheet” issued by the forest. The biggest part of the containment line stretches from near the A Bar A ranch near Encampment south into Colorado, around the fire’s southern edge and back north into Wyoming.
The strong winds seen Sunday were expected to bring a cold front that could bring some rain and snow to the area during the day.