By Jennifer Kocher, Cowboy State Daily
A 5,300-acre fire in western Campbell County that ignited from a coal seam was 50% contained as of Saturday morning.
At its peak, 120 firefighters from various federal and county agencies battled the flames that crossed over to burn in Johnson and Sheridan counties as well as Campbell.
The fire began Monday afternoon on U.S. Bureau of Land Management, state and private lands in Campbell, Johnson and Sheridan Counties.
No structures or homes have been damaged and the fire burning in rural, rugged terrain has forced no evacuations or road closures.
As of Saturday morning, there were 79 people onsite managing the fire, assisted by a bulldozer, five fire engines and other assets. Most efforts Saturday were expected to focus on holding the fire’s containment line and patrolling for any hot spots, according to a news release from Melanie Wilmer, the fire’s informational officer.
Temperatures Saturday were expected to be in the high 80s with south winds up to 25 mph and isolated thunderstorms possibly in the afternoon.
Coal seam fires are a natural burning of an outcrop of coal or an underground coal seam, according to Global Forest Watch, and can be ignited by lightning, wildfire, or low temperature oxidation and can burn for many years.
Most of the time they don’t present any issues, but if they reach the surface, they can cause fires.