The Badger Creek Fire expanded to 5,244 acres Tuesday as the U.S. Forest Service harnessed more resources and personnel to combat the blaze, Fire Information Officer Jackie Parks said.
“We believe we have about 200 personnel on scene (Tuesday),” Parks said. “We have four Hot Shot crews and two Type II crews.”
Rocky Mountain Region Type II Black Team is slated to assume command of the wildfire today and is setting up an incident command center at Harmony School on Wyoming Highway 230, she said.
Additionally, air resources were deployed against the blaze, including two Type I helicopters dropping water buckets, one Type III helicopter for reconnaissance and one air attack plane, the Forest Service incident report said.
Hot, dry weather conditions and steady winds Tuesday played a significant role in the fire’s growth, Parks said.
“The sunny days with no cloud cover cause the fire to become more active in the morning and last longer in the day,” she explained. “The fire primarily continues to grow east.”
So far, Mountain Home, Wold Tract, Wyocolo, Miller Lake, Beehive, Gramm, Woods Landing, Fox Park and all residences south of Woods Landing to the Colorado border have been issued evacuation orders, the incident report states.
“At this time, Foxborough is the only other community that is affected, and they are on pre-evacuation notice,” Parks said.
No injuries or lost structures have been reported, she added.
“Our structure protection groups are running day and night in the evacuated areas,” Parks said.
Working in conjunction with the Forest Service, the Wyoming Department of Transportation closed Wyoming Highway 230 from Woods Landing south to the Colorado border Monday and Wyoming Highway 10 from Woods Landing to Colorado on Tuesday, but dozens of people are still trying to drive through, Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper Dustin Ragon said.
“I can’t count how many people say they didn’t see the signs,” Ragon said. “We’re still seeing a ton of people pull up (to the road closure).”
Highway 230 is used heavily by tourists and workers from Fort Collins, Colorado, traveling to Walden, Colorado, and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, he explained. Because many haven’t seen news about the fire, the road closure signs are their only indication the highway is impassible.
“Our primary goal is to keep people out of the area for the safety of the public and the firefighters,” Ragon said. “We really need people to take an alternate route, because this way is not safe right now.”
The Forest Service also coordinated with Carbon Power and Light, Inc. to cut power to the fire area as a precautionary measure, Forest Service Spokesman Aaron Voos said.
Monday night, firefighting efforts included six fire engines providing fire suppression, structure protection and assessment, the incident report states.
The cause of the fire remains unknown and is under investigation. A tip line was established by the Laramie Ranger District to help with the investigation. Call 745-2392, select option No. 5 and leave a detailed message with any information about suspicious activity Sunday afternoon near Forest Service Roads 501 and 544D in the area of the Mountain Home (off-highway vehicle) Trail system.