By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Even as they brace for high winds expected to rake the Mullen Fire on Wednesday, firefighters battling the 175,564-acre blaze are beginning to pick up their equipment from areas where the fire has been contained, officials said Monday.
John Wallace, operations section chief for the Type I management team coordinating efforts to contain the fire, said the firefighters on the blaze spent most of Monday making sure structures remained protected from the flames, particularly on the northeastern and eastern edges of the fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest.
“It was a pretty quiet day on the fire today,” he said during Monday’s briefing on the fire. “Firefighters did a lot of structure protection, hung around houses and made sure everything was OK.”
In one location north of Albany, snow from a storm that moved through the area Saturday was still on the ground, Wallace said.
“There was snow on the hill … there was no fire at all,” he said.
However, as winds increased Monday afternoon, fires that had dampened picked back up in the face of the higher winds and lower humidity.
“But everything was staying inside the lines,” he said.
Winds across the fire area gusted to 60 mph Monday afternoon and although they were expected to drop Monday night, winds were expected to pick up again Tuesday night and Wednesday, with gusts expected to reach 50 mph to 70 mph, said Kari Fleegel, the incident meteorologist for the fire.
“It’s going to be very uncomfortable out there Wednesday,” she said.
Wallace said in areas where the fire has been contained, primarily along its eastern edge and the southern tip in Colorado, firefighters are returning to pick up their equipment.
“One of the things we’re doing right now is starting to pick up our hoses, our firefighting equipment in areas where we have contained the fire,” he said. “We’re starting to pick up after ourselves.”
Power should be restored soon to communities that saw it shut off during the worst of the fire, Wallace said, including Fox Park.
“I saw a power company truck out there earlier, so they’re starting to assess that and work on it,” he said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we don’t think we’re going to be burning up any power poles or power lines.”