52 major wildfires burning on about 900,000 acres across the West
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Even as firefighters gain control of the large and destructive fires in Colorado, large wildfires continue to burn around the West, including Wyoming, where the Arapaho Fire, on the Medicine Bow National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland, blew up to 75,000 acres Sunday.
The fire, between Casper and Laramie, has destroyed an undetermined number of structures and burned so fiercely Sunday that it created its own weather. Firefighters focused on structure protection in the Harris Park subdivision to try prevent additional damage to residential areas.
Driven by winds and fueled by the same dry conditions that contributed to the recent Colorado infernos, the Arapaho Fire showed extreme behavior Sunday, at times growing at the rate of 1 mph. Firefighters are concerned that it could become a monster fire if it becomes established in the Friend Creek Drainage.
More than 500 firefighters are already trying to contain the fire, with an incoming Type 1 management team slated to take over command. The Arapaho Fire is burning in dense, dry forest, with plenty of beetle-killed timber and down, dead fuels.
Also in Wyoming, the 45,000-acre Fontenelle Fire has been growing about 4,000 acres per day. According to the latest update, large fire growth continues to place substantial strain on helium plant construction (delaying contributions to the nation’s critical helium supply and employment of 300-plus construction workers), as well as oil and gas production.
More on Wyoming wildfires here.
Utah has active fires burning across about 180,000 acres, including the 20,000-acre Seeley Fire on the Manti-La Sal National Forest, about 15 miles from Huntington, southeast of Provo.
The fire threatened summer cabins, year-round homes and a historic ranger station and forced evacuations of several neighborhoods and youth camps. A significant oil and field in the area has also been shut down due to the proximity of the fire.
The Seeley Fire, with started with June 26 lighting strike, is only 5 percent contained. Several coal mines in the area have shut down due to the fire and is causing a hardship to the local community, according to the Forest Service.
Montana is reporting active fires burning on about 200,000 acres total, including 160,000 acres in the Ash Creek complex, in the southeastern part of the state.
The northern high plains were under a Red Flag Warning from the Continental Divide to the Dakotas, and into north central Wyoming, with highs forecast to be in the 101 to 106 degree range.
Montana wildfire information is online here.
Across the country, 52 large fires are burning across about 900,000 acres according to the National Interagency Fire Center:
New Mexico (3)
North Carolina (1)
South Dakota (2)
Season to-date there have been about 27,000 fires burning across 1.9 million acres. The season started out on a slower than average pace and is still behind the 10-year running average (2.2 million acres) but not by much.
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, forest fires, public lands, Travel, West, wildfires Tagged: | Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, National Interagency Fire Center, Fontenelle Fire, Arapahoe Fire, Seeley Fire