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Rising Humidity Helping Firefighters Battle 1,000-Acre Robinson Fire

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Milder temperatures and rising humidity are expected to help firefighters as they battle a wildfire covering more than 1,000 acres of land near Buffalo.

The Robinson Fire was started by lightning on June 8 and was pushed by high winds late last week into the Robinson Canyon, where it is currently burning.

Maribeth Pecotte, public information officer for the fire, told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday that while temperatures were high in in the fire area, the firefighting team expected temperatures to be somewhat milder later in the week that would be coupled with some much-needed humidity in the air.

“People don’t always realize how just a little bit of humidity can be critical to stopping fire growth,” she said. “The humidity can really stem a fire and it just won’t climb any higher because the humidity is just smoldering it.”

While a wildfire is never an ideal situation, Pecotte noted that the Robinson Fire will actually be beneficial for the forest surrounding it.

Since this fire is burning around ponderosa pine trees, which have evolved to be around flames, it will mainly burn downed trees and common juniper trees in the area, which are quick to burn and can be a major fuel source for wildfires.

“Ponderosas like to grow in wide open spaces and aren’t densely packed, so this fire will allow the surrounding trees to grow more vigorously in the future,” Pecotte said. “The fire has been burning more on the surface than the (tops of the trees), so this is going to help open up that forest and clean it up some.”

She noted that ponderosa pines have a thick bark that can withstand long exposure to flames and that the trees’ lowest branches could sit as high as 30 to 50 feet off the ground, meaning the fire will not affect these trees compared to the damage done by something like the Mullen Fire.

The fire is located 20 miles south of Buffalo. Almost 350 personnel are working to combat the fire.

The Rocky Mountain Area Type 2 blue team is currently working to direct resources and provide information about the fire. Pecotte said one smokejumper working the fire reported positive results from firefighting efforts earlier in the day on Tuesday.

Threats for wildfires are high around the state because of extended dry conditions and high temperatures.

In an effort to prevent wildfires, Campbell County commissioners implemented a burn ban this week that prohibited outdoor burning and fireworks in certain areas, according to County 17.

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