There was better news Friday from those in charge of fighting the Mullen Fire about 40 miles southwest of Laramie, as spread of the blaze slowed and containment increased slightly.
According to a daily fact sheet released at 3:30 p.m. Friday by a Southern Area Type 1 Blue Team managing the fire in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, the total acreage was 173,747 as of a measurement taken at 10 p.m. Thursday. At 1 a.m. the same day, the total acreage was 170,996, which was an increase of nearly 10,000 acres from the day before.
Containment of the perimeter of the fire increased from 14% to a total of 18%, due to firefighters gaining control “mostly along the west portion of Wyoming Highway 230 in the Platte River Valley, Colorado Highways 125 and 127 and a piece to the west of Woods Landing,” the release stated.
Also on Friday, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office released a statement updating the large evacuation area.
The following areas were changed from mandatory evacuation to pre-evacuation:
— Everything along Wyoming Highway 10, to include Woods Landing and Jelm to the south to the Colorado state line. Residents of that area are now able to access their property and residences, but need to remain ready to evacuate quickly if the status changes. A power company was doing assessments in the area to restore power.
— Wyoming Highway 230 will remain closed to westbound traffic near Woods Landing, and Boswell Creek Road will be closed where it enters the forest.
— All other closures and evacuations areas remain the same.
The total number of firefighters and support staff increased to 1,186 on Friday.
“Firefighters are focusing on containing the finger above Woods Landing,” the release stated. “From Albany north, fire in grass is more easily controlled, but slow progression is expected toward Centennial, where structure protection continues. Air resources have dropped thousands of gallons of water and retardant.
“The fire is also slowly progressing to the north and northwest due to heavy load of dead and down fuels, and firefighters will use French Creek Canyon as a natural containment line.
“Along the western boundary, containment is increasing. There is some heat near Camp Creek, but none north of the A Bar A Ranch to the northwest point of the fire.
“On the south end, pockets continue to burn together with little spotting. Near Mountain Home, the fire continues slight movement, except in recent timber sale areas. At Fox Park, the fire is slowly eliminating fuels, reducing potential for re-burn.”
The fire management team also provides virtual community meetings at 5 p.m. daily, livestreamed on the Mullen Fire information page, https://www.facebook.com/MullenFire.
The weather Saturday will remain very dry and warm, with forecasts calling for increasing wind and the direction of the gusts becoming a focus for fire suppression efforts. The winds are expected to be 10-15 mph, with gusts to 25 mph.
Sunday’s weather could bring a mixed bag. A cold front will significantly lower temperatures, and the humidity will rise, with mixed rain and snow in the upper elevations all day. But the front will also bring very strong winds, with gusts from 45 to 55 mph.
For current information on the multiple evacuations and pre-evacuations, visit the following websites:
— Albany County Sheriff Office (Wyo.) Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Albany-County-Sheriffs-Office-618424944997540
— Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (Colo.) Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JacksonCountySheriffOffice
— Larimer County (Colo.) website: https://www.larimer.org/emergency/emergency-information
Road status can also change quickly in response to fire conditions. Colorado Highway 127 and Wyoming Highway 230 on the west side of the fire are now open.
For the most current information on Wyoming and Colorado road closures, go online to https://www.wyoroad.info/pls/Browse/WRR.STATIC5?SelectedDistrict=1 and https://cotrip.org/travelAlerts.htm#?roadId=.
No estimate is available for reopening closed roads.
According to the incident website, the estimated containment date for the Mullen Fire, which started Sept. 17, is Oct. 30.
For comparison purposes, the Cameron Peak Fire, less than 30 miles southeast of the Mullen Fire in Colorado, which started Aug. 13, had consumed 131,231 acres as of Friday night and was 44% contained. It is expected to be contained Oct. 31.