Britania Mountain Fire

Smoke darkens in the distance from the Britania Mountain Fire in a previously burned area along Fletcher Park Road on Friday near Wheatland. The fire has burned more than 26,000 acres and remains a challenge to wildland firefighters due to the rugged terrain the fire is scorching.

By DANIEL BENDTSEN

dbendtsen@laramieboomerang.com

The Britania Mountain Fire spreading in northeast Albany County was slowed over the weekend by favorable weather and an operation that helped prevent the fire from crossing onto the south side of Palmer Canyon Road.

After reaching 32,089 acres Tuesday, the fire was confirmed to have destroyed four structures, including two residences in Albany County.

Fifteen outbuildings have also been reported lost. Roughly half of the fire’s acreage is in Platte County.

The fire was 77 percent contained after Labor Day weekend, with only the fire’s southwest perimeter remaining volatile.

In the last week, keeping the fire north of Palmer Canyon Road has been a priority for firefighters to prevent further structure loss, incident command team spokesman Brant Porter told the Laramie Boomerang.

As the fire approached the road from the northeast, Porter said it wasn’t safe to put firefighters directly up against the Britania’s fireline where heavy fuel loads raged.

Instead, crews lit a fire of their own Saturday.

A mile away from the actual fireline, firefighters created an “indirect fireline” Saturday and sent a fire headed northeast to burn fuels to stifle Britania’s momentum.

“The operation had been planned and the fire managers and planners were waiting for conditions to be right,” Porter said. “If it’s extremely gusty one day or the wind’s coming out of the wrong direction, that can cause those operation to be put off.”

Albany County Fire Warden Chad Dinges told county commissioners Tuesday the operation was a “key component to the stabilization of this incident.”

As a result, he’s expecting the fire’s acreage to stop growing.

“There’s a lot of perimeter on this fire, and there’s a chance some of it could escape some of our firelines,” he said.

Dinges expects the county to devote resources to the fire through September.

Porter said local knowledge of the fire area’s landscape has been very useful in the incident team’s efforts.

“There is a great deal of local resources that are on the fire and will continue to be on the fire,” he said.

Crews worked Monday on maintaining the established fire lines and protecting structures near Palmer Canyon Road. Residents near the road were evacuated early last week to a center in Wheatland.

The Wheatland Rural Electric Association shut off power for the Palmer Canyon area, but restored power by Tuesday.

A Type 2 incident command team was brought in Aug. 29 to handle the fire and Rocky Mountain Team Black will prepare to transfer command back down to a Type 3 organization today.

The fire was caused by lightning six miles southwest of Wheatland and, as of Tuesday, 502 people have worked to combat the fire.

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