By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Facing winds of up to 75 mph, firefighters battling the Mullen Fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest were going to focus on monitoring the fire Wednesday and attacking any trouble spots that may come up, according to a firefighting official.
Jon Wallace, operations section chief for the Type I team battling the 176,371-acre fire, said during a morning briefing that winds were making it difficult Wednesday to do much but monitor the flames and continue efforts to protect buildings.
“We’re just going to be really monitoring the fire today, engaging where we need to if the fire decides it wants to move out of the mountains and into the grasslands,” he said. “The firefighters are going to be really cautious today. There’s a lot of blowing debris out there, a lot of ash blowing around and so the conditions are just really nasty for us today.”
Firefighters have expanded the containment line around the fire from 30% to 34%, according to the wildfire information website InciWeb.
Most of the containment line is on the fire’s western edge, stretching down around its southern tip in Colorado and then north back into Wyoming past Mountain Home.
On the fire’s northern edge, firefighters will begin some cleanup operations, using large chippers to clean up large piles of brush and timber around Ryan Park that were left by a fuel reduction project.
Once the winds die down, firefighters will also work on a stronger fire line near Centennial, Wallace said.
“It’s a long-term fire line that is going to help product Centennial in future fires, if not this one,” he said.
A Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation Team, made up of various forest specialists, is set to visit the area soon to direct rehabilitation efforts, he added.
“They look at the fire’s footprint and decide where we need to put erosion blankets down, where we need reseeding,” he said.
High winds were forecast to continue for two days, but begin slowing by Friday and Saturday, when temperatures were also expected to drop into the low 40s.