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Mullen Fire Now 25,000+Acres; Strong Winds Forecast This Weekend

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Posted by Mullen Fire Information on Friday, September 25, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest reached the Rob Roy community this week, officials announced on Friday.

During a virtual update that was streamed to Facebook, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management team members provided various updates regarding the fire that has been raging in the forest for more than a week.

As of Friday afternoon, the fire has affected 25,250 acres, according to fire tracking website InciWeb. More forest area closures were announced to better allow fire resources to assist where needed.

Pre-evacuation notices have also been issued for the Foxborough and Fox Park communities due to concerns with wind direction and anticipated fire spread.

On Friday, crews were focused on structure protection, particularly in the Rambler area, one of the RMIM members said on Friday.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm, meaning that the fire has continued to rage on, an official from the U.S. Forest Service said during the stream. He also compared the Mullen wildfire to the 2017 Keystone wildfire, but noted that the latter occurred in July.

For the weekend, strong winds are expected to continue, especially on Saturday, with some significant gusts possible. Temperatures will be slightly cooler with increased humidity.

A cold front will cross the fire area on Saturday, with much cooler temperatures expected on Sunday. Gusty winds will shift northwest behind the cold front and will continue into Monday.

Only 2% of the fire has been contained and its estimated completed containment date is Oct. 30.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has been refunding hunters and anglers for licenses going unused due to the fire.

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Mullen Fire Continues Growing, Nears 20K Acres

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https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1203240833391194&extid=Dl5UB6FHQjx0cjCp

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest continued to burn and grow Thursday, expanding to affect 19,526 acres by Friday morning.

Friday was expected to be an active fire day, according to updates on the fire tracking website “InciWeb.” Weather conditions were expected to be similar to Thursday’s, with warm temperatures and strong, gusty winds that could promote the fire. A “red flag” warning for fire danger was in effect for the forest again Friday.

Firefighters expected to see “significant” growth on Friday, especially on the east and northeast edges of the fire, and strong winds were predicted to hamper air operations. Structure protection crews were working to defend homes and structures in evacuated areas.

Fire and Albany and Carbon county officials were coordinating efforts to ensure the public was aware of rapidly changing fire conditions.

On Thursday there was significant activity on all sides of the fire, which was pushed by strong southwest winds with gusts to 30 mph that continued well into the night.

Winds were very strong on the fire’s north, southeast and east flanks, so firefighters were unable to slow fire’s advance.

On the east side, the fire ran to the southern edge of Rob Roy Reservoir. The southern tip of the fire moved to the east, crossing the 512 Road and approaching the Keystone communities.

As fire activity intensified, many firefighters moved to successfully defend structures in the Rambler community and the Keystone area. 

Friday is the first of several days of strong gusty winds associated with a strong cold front passing through the area this weekend.

Forecasts called for west-southwest winds to continue, with gusts up to 40 mph. As a result, firefighters expected the fire’s spread to continue.

The Lake Creek, Rambler, Rob Roy and Keystone communities and the 507C cabin grouping have been evacuated.

A pre-evacuation notice has been issued for the private land along Fox Creek Road, the Albany and Centennial communities extending northwest along Highway 130 and all areas west of Highway 11 in the valley.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Friday. Only 2% has been contained and the estimated containment date is Oct. 30.

The total number of personnel working the fire has again grown, this time to 367.

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Mullen Fire Grows To Almost 18K Acres By Thursday

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Thursday’s operations briefing.

Posted by Mullen Fire Information on Thursday, September 24, 2020

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest has continued to grow, affecting nearly 18,000 acres as of Thursday morning.

As of Thursday, only 2% of the 17,763-acre fire had been contained, according to U.S. Forest Service reports on the agency’s wildfire tracking website “Inciweb.” The estimated date for full containment is Oct. 30.

A red flag warning was in effect from noon to 8 p.m. on Thursday across the fire area as warm temperatures, strong southwest winds gusting up to 35 mph and minimum humidity was predicted to promote the growth of the fire.

Gusty winds were expected to continue all through the weekend. Critical fire weather is predicted on Friday, with continued warm and dry conditions.

Increased cloud coverage and moisture over the weekend will increase afternoon humidities over the weekend with slightly cooler temperatures in the fire area, the Forest Service said.

The current planned actions are to assess risks to to structures and to prepare for their protection. Specific areas to be targeted include structures at the Rambler subdivision, A Bar A Ranch, Keystone and additional values at risk in the fire area.

Gov. Mark Gordon made a statement on his Facebook page Thursday morning, reiterating information about the fire.

“A shift in wind direction is expected to push the fire to the northeast [Thursday],” he said. “Conditions are expected to be very challenging for fire crews today and tomorrow.”

The fire became more active on Wednesday due to increased winds, warmer temperatures and lower humidity. Fire growth was mainly in the Platte River Wilderness on the southeast side of the fire.

The movement into the wilderness was expected, so helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are working in the area to slow the fire’s progression.

The crew working the fire has grown to 290 personnel.

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Mullen Fire Grows To Almost 15K Acres

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire grew to nearly 15,000 acres by Wednesday morning despite the efforts of helicopters dropping thousands of gallons of water on the flames in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

According to fire tracking website Inciweb, helicopters delivered more than 22,000 gallons of water on Tuesday, which supported the work of the firefighters on the ground by cooling the fire’s edge and slowing its spread rate.

Fixed wing aircraft, including CL-415 scoopers and smaller scooping aircraft, were also used on the east side of the fire in the Rambler area. 

The fire has currently affected 14,653 acres and only 2% has been contained. The estimated containment date is Oct. 30.

Lake Hattie is closed to watercraft effective immediately to allow for specialized aircraft to collect water from the lake to help with suppression efforts, according to an announcement from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Fire managers have assigned personnel and other resources to focus on assets at risk, such as evacuated communities of Rambler, Keystone, Lake Creek, the Rob Roy Reservoir area and the city of Cheyenne water supply.

Structure protection groups are in each community, clearing brush and installing sprinkler systems to prepare structures for possible fire progression. Engines and hand crews are working on the western edge to secure the fire perimeter to prevent spread to the west onto private property.

In other areas, fire managers are scouting the terrain for opportunities where firefighters can successfully slow fire progression.  

Dry dead and down fuels, low humidity and gusty winds have contributed to active fire behavior, even throughout Tuesday night. Later this week, fire weather is expected to become critical with strong west/southwest winds, very low humidity and above normal temperatures.

The Lake Creek, Rambler, Rob Roy and Keystone communities and the 507C cabin grouping have been evacuated.

A pre-evacuation notice has been issued for the private land along Fox Creek Road, the Albany and Centennial communities extending northwest along Highway 130 and all areas west of Highway 11 in the valley.

A temporary flight restriction is now in effect for the fire area, which applies to all private aircraft, including drones.

Nearly 200 people were working the fire as of Wednesday.

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Team Fighting Mullen Fire Shorthanded Due To “Critical Shortage” In Firefighting Resources

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Firefighters battling a 13,500-acre blaze in the Medicine Bow National Forest are having to deal with a “critical shortage” in firefighting resources caused by wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington, an official said Tuesday night during an update on the Mullen Fire.

Chris Zoller, Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team planning operations manager, was one of many presenters during the update on the fire burning in Medicine Bow National Forest on Tuesday. The team took over command of the fire early Tuesday morning, with the intent to bring in more resources to combat the fire.

Basically every resource available (ground crews, aircraft, etc.) is in short supply due to the wildfires raging farther west. But Zoller noted that the team has secured some aircraft to help with the fire, such as helicopters to help with structure protection.

The presentation also included information about what to do in case of an evacuation, closures in the forest and about the history of the fire. The cause was still unknown as of Tuesday night.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos told Cowboy State Daily that while the closures are frustrating for the public, they have occurred in the interest of safety.

“We don’t take this closure lightly,” he said. “We only do it because we feel the fire has the potential to impact certain areas. We realize people are looking for immediate information on the fire, and we’re trying to provide it as quickly as possible, but want to make sure everything we release is accurate and not immediately out-of-date.”

Only 2% of the fire had been contained as of Tuesday evening, with 13,504 acres affected.

The fire has crossed the 500 Road on the north and 511 Road on the northeast, according to fire tracking website Inciweb. On the south side, the fire has crossed the 512 Road and is active in the Sheep Creek drainage.

It continued to burn Tuesday in extremely rugged terrain in an area with live blowdown and beetle-killed deadfall, so extreme fire behavior is possible. Strong, gusty winds could push the fire in multiple directions, but are predicted to push it to the east and northeast.

As of the Tuesday update, aerial firefighters successfully defended the Rambler community by applying a flame retardant along roads where prior fire mitigation projects reduced the available fuels.

Active fire behavior is expected to continue into Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Some firefighters have been assigned to a night shift to continue operations.

The Lake Creek, Rambler, Rob Roy and Keystone communities and the 507C cabin grouping have been evacuated.

A pre-evacuation notice has been issued for the Centennial Valley, including private land along Fox Creek Road, the Albany and Centennial communities extending northwest along Highway 130 and all areas west of Highway 11 in the valley.

Ground and aerial operations continue to work on slowing the fire growth toward private properties on the west, east and north side of the perimeter.

Firefighters are assessing structures in the evacuated areas nearest the fire and preparing to implement defenses to protect those structures.

A temporary flight restriction is now in effect for the fire area, which applies to all private aircraft, including drones.

Fire Which Consists Of One Smoldering Tree Announced in Yellowstone

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We’re certainly not criticizing the National Park Service because wildfires can spread rapidly.

It’s just that this is a type of announcement we haven’t seen before.

There is a new fire in Yellowstone named the “Hancock Fire” and it consists of one smoldering tree.

The Park Service announced on its Facebook page that at around 11:45 a.m. Monday, a ranger detected the fire.

“The tree that is on fire is smoldering with no open flame,” the announcement reads. “Since the fire has low spread potential and is located in a remote area, several miles from a trail, fire staff will monitor it and will not take direct action.”

The agency called the smoldering tree a “0.1-acre fire” and it is believed to have been set by lightning as a strike was seen close to that location a few days prior.

Nothing is closed as a result of the smoldering tree. Campsites and trails remain open.

However, fire danger in the Yellowstone area remains very high; campfires in the backcountry are not allowed. All residents and visitors can assist fire efforts by following fire restrictions to reduce the potential of additional starts.

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Mullen Fire Still At 13K Acres, Highway Reopened

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest stayed inside its perimeter overnight Monday and remained at 13,504 acres as of Tuesday morning, according to firefighting officials.

A Type II management team took over command of the fire Tuesday morning to coordinate efforts of firefighters in Albany and Carbon counties and established a Facebook page where fire updates are being posted.

Although Wyoming Highway 130 between Centennial and Saratoga was reopened Tuesday, the fire’s containment was still estimated at only 2%.

An evacuation order for the Keystone area, including Keystone proper, lower Keystone, Langford/Ricker/ Moore’s Gulch and the 507C cabin group remained in order, as did a pre-evacuation order for the Centennial Valley, including the communities of Albany and Centennial.

The Type II management team that took over command on Tuesday will assess the damage done and call for appropriate resources to battle the fire, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos.

The teams usually consist of around 30 members, but can quickly grow to 50 or 100 people with additional resources, Voos said.

He added the group won’t be as large this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but its members will still likely be in the area for about two weeks.

“Basically, they come in to assess the damage and what’s going on and then bring in the appropriate resources to combat the fire,” he said.

A virtual community meeting is planned for sometime Tuesday evening, but no information about what time or where the public could access the meeting had been released as of 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is still unknown as of Tuesday, but is under investigation.

“We’re looking for tips on what might have happened, especially firsthand knowledge,” Voos said. “We know the general area of where the fire started, but due to its complexity, we haven’t been able to get an investigator in there yet.”

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Mullen Fire Monday Night Update: 13,504 Acres Affected, High Probability of Fire Growth

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Although the Mullen Fire was still raging in the Medicine Bow National Forest on Monday night, there was some good news to report.

According to Monday evening’s Incident Overview, not only have ground and aerial operations succeeded in securing some containment lines near the fire’s heel on the west side, but the fire has slowed after coming out of wilderness.

Plus, the amount of acres affected by the fire have decreased.

The fire perimeter is now 13,504 acres (as opposed to 13,835 acres). The agency attributes the change to “more precise, refined mapping” on Monday.

The bad news is that there remains a high probability for fire growth.

The Forest Service says the fire could grow in any direction but the most likely directions are east and northeast.

“The fire is aligned with fuels & topography to possibly make a run up Mullen Creek headwaters, into Douglas Creek & Middle Fork Little Laramie,” the agency said.

The same evacuations remain in place with the addition of the Lake Creek community which has been evacuated by Albany County.

As for the immediate future, the only new information is that a virtual community meeting is being planned for Tuesday evening. No details are yet available but interested parties should continue to check the InciWeb site for the Mullen Fire.

On Tuesday, a “Type II Incident Management Team” will assume management of the fire on Tuesday.

Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that a “Type II” management assessment team will arrive Tuesday to assume management of the fire.

“Basically, they come in to assess the damage and what’s going on and then bring in the appropriate resources to combat the fire,” he said.

The assessment teams usually consist of around 30 members, but can quickly grow to 50 or 100 people with additional resources. Voos said the group won’t be as large this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but its members will still likely be in the area for about two weeks.

The story is developing and will be continuously updated on CowboyStateDaily.com.

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Mullen Fire Likely To Grow Due To Strong Winds

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Mullen Fire in Medicine Bow National Forest is likely to grow in size this week due to strong, gusty winds and dry weather, according to forest officials.

The U.S. Forest Service announced this on Monday, as well as noting there is a red flag warning in place for the region, which is a concern. The winds could push the fire in multiple directions, but will likely end up moving east and northeast, the Forest Service said.

The fire had affected 13,835 acres as of Monday morning. In addition to the Savage Run Wilderness, the fire is established in the Platte River Wilderness.

Available fuels and the region’s topography could let the fire make a run up Mullen Creek headwaters into Douglas Creek and Middle Fork Little Laramie, the agency said.

Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos told Cowboy State Daily on Monday that a “Type II” management assessment team will arrive Tuesday to assume management of the fire.

“Basically, they come in to assess the damage and what’s going on and then bring in the appropriate resources to combat the fire,” he explained.

The assessment teams usually consist of around 30 members, but can quickly grow to 50 or 100 people with additional resources. Voos said the group won’t be as large this year due to coronavirus restrictions, but its members will still likely be in the area for about two weeks.

On Sunday, ground and aerial operations were successful in containing 2% of the fire on the west side. A 100-person crew is working the fire, while helicopters, air tankers and single-engine air tankers are working the fire’s edges.

The fire has grown significantly since it was first reported on Thursday. The cause was still unknown as of Monday morning and Voos couldn’t report specifics of the investigation.

“We’re looking for tips on what might have happened, especially firsthand knowledge,” he said. “We know the general area of where the fire started, but due to its complexity, we haven’t been able to get an investigator in there yet.”

All members of the public, including campers and hunters, were advised to leave the area due to the possibility for extreme fire behavior.

Fire growth wasn’t as intense as expected over the weekend, with mainly interior burning and some expansion around the middle of the burn. The fire slowed after spreading outside of the wilderness.

On Sunday, the Albany County Emergency Management Agency requested evacuation of the Keystone area, which included Keystone proper, lower Keystone, Langford/Ricker, Moore’s Gulch and the 507C cabin grouping.

A pre-evacuation notice was also issued for the Centennial Valley, including the private land along Fox Creek Road, the communities of Albany, Centennial, extending northwest to the Snowy Range along Highway 130 and all areas west of Highway 11 in the valley.

The Rambler and Rob Roy areas have also been evacuated.

The fire originated in the Savage Run Wilderness area of the forest in Carbon County.

Portions of the forest have been closed due to the fire and Voos noted that while the closures are frustrating for the public, they have occurred in the interest of safety.

“We don’t take this closure lightly,” he said. “We only do it because we feel the fire has the potential to impact certain areas. We realize people are looking for immediate information on the fire, and we’re trying to provide it as quickly as possible, but want to make sure everything we release is accurate and not immediately out-of-date.”

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Mullen Fire Doubles In Size; Now Nearly 14,000 Acres Affected

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UPDATE: From the Sunday evening Incident Overview.

Aerial resources were successful is checking fire growth to the east & southeast, keeping it from entering the Rambler area.

Ground & aerial operations were successful in securing 2% containment near the fire’s heel on the west side

Fire growth was not as intense as expected, with mainly interior burning & some expansion around the middle of the burn. The fire has slowed after coming out of wilderness.

Updated fire size & perimeter will be available Monday. More precise heat perimeter mapping is expected to refine fire location & size.

———

The Mullen Fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest almost doubled in size in less than a day and is now affecting 13,835 acres.

In its Incident Overview released on Sunday morning, the U.S. Forest Service said the fire, which was estimated to have affected 7,000 acres on Saturday evening, had grown to the northeast, north, and south, but ground crews and helicopters were successful at stopping growth to the west.

“It appears the fire has not yet reached Rob Roy Reservoir, but is very close,” the agency reported.

Aerial resources, the agency said, continued to drop fire retardant in the Rambler area.

Despite the growth of the fire, there was some good news. Rain showers were reported on parts of the fire Saturday night and the weather forecast called for cooler weather Sunday. But strong and gusty winds were still expected.

As reported yesterday, the fire has crossed the Savage Run Wilderness boundary on the south flank and the fire is now established in the Platte River Wilderness.

Late yesterday, the Forest Service expanded the closure area. “Please help us spread the word, as this fire is quickly evolving,” the agency tweeted.

Smoke from the fire will affect southeast Wyoming, parts of Colorado, and Nebraska. The National Weather Service released a simulated smoke dispersal model which highlights the impact of the smoke.

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