The onset of consistent winter conditions and the lack of fire activity in the Mullen Fire burn area has enabled the Medicine Bow National Forest to lift the area closure that has been in effect since mid-September.
The public may access and use the burn area in the southern Snowy Range, Albany and Carbon Counties, Wyo., and Jackson County, Colo., however the Mullen Fire may still be smoldering.
Most of the burn area has cooled, but heat may still exist in thick timber stands and deadfall. Smoke has not been visible for several weeks.
There is one exception to the area closure recension. Due to fire damage and hazards in the vicinity of the Rail Trail, approximately seven miles of the non-motorized trail, from Fox Park to Lake Owen, will remain closed to public use until mitigation work can be completed.
The parking area and toilet on the northwest corner of Lake Owen, near the fishing pier, will also be closed.
Forest staff will continue to monitor the fire as it remains in patrol status and has not been declared fully controlled (out).
“The benefit of public access to the Mullen Fire burn area now outweighs the risks that exist,” said Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero. “That said, we absolutely do not want to minimize that burned areas can be hazardous and that people should not assume that everything is back to the way it was before.
“More than ever, visitors to the area need to be aware of the situations they are in. There is a lot of rebuilding, repair, regrowth, and work that will need to take place in coming years. The public needs to keep that in mind as they explore and recreate.”
Caution is urged in burned areas, as trees may have been weakened by the fire and could easily fall. The burn area will have many ‘snags,’ or standing dead trees that are fire weakened and highly unstable, especially in high winds.
The Mullen Fire was reported on September 17 and burned 176,878 acres.
Any additional fire information and updates will be provided by the USDA Forest Service on Twitter and on InciWeb. The Facebook page specific to the Mullen Fire will no longer be updated.