By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Firefighters battling The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest have been able to expand their containment line around the blaze, officials announced early Tuesday morning.
The fire has now affected 176,047 acres and is 30% contained. The estimated containment date is still Oct. 30.
In a Tuesday morning update streamed on Facebook, operations manager John Wallace said that the fire was relatively quiet for most of Monday morning, but managed to gain some traction in the afternoon due to strong winds.
“Last night, our swing shift had to go out and actively engage with the fire and put it out as it moved out of the drainage ditches and towards some grassy areas,” Wallace said.
Strong winds are also a concern Tuesday. However, officials are focused on working with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office to reopen Fox Creek Road for residents to return home in the next day or so.
The fire has continued to advance toward Centennial, but Wallace said firefighters will focus on keeping it at bay near Middle Creek.
Fire crews will also work on removing dead trees and vegetation in the forest, to both slow the Mullen Fire and keep fires from developing in the near future.
More than 1,200 people are working to contain the fire.
While winds in the area were predicted to slow to 10 to 15 mph on Tuesday morning, forecasts called for the winds to strengthen through the night Tuesday, with gusts of up to 75 mph predicted by Wednesday. The winds, along with low humidity, were expected to leave available fuels for the fire dry and contribute to increased fire activity, according to the wildfire information website InciWeb.