By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
Smoke and haze – that’s been the rule for the skies of western Wyoming for the last week.
According to weather officials, most of the smoke is coming from wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington.
However, two fires large enough to be listed on the national InciWeb database are burning in Wyoming.
The Shale Creek fire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, involving about 189 acres, was first reported July 16 and is expected to be fully contained by Saturday.
The fire, burning in remote and rugged terrain east of the Hams Fork River, has forced the closure of some access trails and forest roads by Bridger-Teton National Forest officials.
The Crater Ridge Fire, however, continued to grow in a remote area of the Bighorn National Forest, covering 564 acres as of Sunday with no containment of the flames reported.
The lightning-caused Crater Ridge Fire is located in an area heavily used for recreation. Numerous travel trailers are located in the area, which is about 30 miles northeast of Lovell.
The U.S. Forest Service closed much of the Bighorn National Forest north of Wyoming Highway 14 and east of the Big Horn-Sheridan county line.
Firefighting officials leadership are making long-term plans for full suppression of the Crater Ridge fire. Existing hazards, including difficult access, heavy fuels and steep terrain, are preventing fire personnel from working directly along the fire’s edge.
In addition to the two large events, there have been other, smaller fires reported on the Shoshone National Forest in the past week, according to Kristie Salzmann, spokesperson for the agency.
“There were a few one-tenth acre fires on the Shoshone,” she told Cowboy State Daily, “But our firefighters were able to quickly contain them; so they did not meet the threshold of being added to Inciweb.”
One of the three smaller fires was discovered on Monday, July 19, west of Meeteetse approximately one-half mile from the Timber Creek Ranger Station on the Greybull Ranger District of the Shoshone National Forest.
A second fire was caused by a lightning strike in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area on the Clarks Fork Ranger District, one-half mile east of Willow Park and north of the Pilot Creek gravel pit. It was reported on July 21.
Another fire reported on July 21 was in the Brent Creek area on the Wind River Ranger District.
“Responding firefighters hiked into the Tappan Creek area to find a single tree had been ignited by lightning,” said Wind River District Ranger Jeff von Kienast. “Their quick actions to contain the fire kept it from growing any larger in our dry conditions.”
Acting Shoshone National Forest Fire Management Officer Clint Dawson urged residents and visitors to use extreme caution. “Everyone who is spending time on public lands this summer should continue to do everything they can to lessen the chances of fires.”
Shoshone National Forest Supervisor Lisa Timchak echoed that warning.
“We anticipate this summer to be a long one for our firefighters and are thankful that our understanding public is helping keep human-caused fires to a minimum.”
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions have been implemented across the entire Shoshone National Forest.