For the first time since the Mullen Fire started Sept. 17 in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, more than half of the perimeter is contained.
Now at 53%, containment of the fire boundaries jumped 19 percentage points from Thursday night until about 8:30 p.m. Friday. The containment lines continue to lengthen on the western, southern and southeastern edges of the fire.
According to a fact sheet released at 10:30 a.m. Saturday by a Southern Area Type 1 Blue Team, “though containment has increased, interior burning with visible flame and smoke is expected to continue until significant snowfall.”
Fire activity is now described as “minimal, creeping, smoldering and backing.”
The total burn acreage for the Mullen Fire increased 454 acres to 176,840. That wasn’t because of perimeter growth, but rather the result of more detailed mapping in the mountains less than 30 miles west and southwest of Laramie.
The total number of firefighters and support personnel was lowered by 48 to 931.
“Firefighters continue to patrol, monitor and mop up hotspots. Contingency lines continue to be constructed near Centennial and Ryan Park,” the fact sheet release states.
Several more mountain communities changed from mandatory evacuations to pre-evacuation (be ready if conditions change): Albany, Rambler, Moore’s Gulch, Keystone and Land Creek.
“Property owners may enter their private property, but should be aware of their surroundings and be prepared to leave on short notice,” the release states. “(Wyoming) Highway 11 will reopen to allow access to the area through Albany. Report to the security checkpoint on Forest Service Road 500 and provide a state-issued ID and specific address. Contact the Albany County Sheriff’s Office by calling non-emergency dispatch at 307-721-2526 to speak with a supervisor for more information.”
On Friday, the communities of Wycolo, Mountain Home, Ox Yoke, Wold, Graham and Beehive were also lowered to pre-evacuation status.
“Open flame, smoke and fire equipment will be visible as homeowners reenter areas,” the release states.
All other evacuation and pre-evacuation orders remain in place.
Wyoming Highway 230 from Woods Landing to the Colorado border is open to all traffic, but a Forest Service closure is still in effect north of Highway 230.
The Forest Service updated its forest closure orders Friday that includes all roads and trails to ensure the protection of public and fire personnel during operations for the Mullen Fire. It will remain in effect until rescinded.
For complete details and description of the forest closure area, a PDF can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd812367.pdf.
For a PDF map of the closure area, see https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd812366.pdf.
The fire management team will host a virtual community question-and-answer session at 5 p.m. Sunday, livestreamed on the Mullen Fire information page, https://www.facebook.com/MullenFire.
The Mullen Fire started in the Savage Run Wilderness in the South Mullen Creek drainage. It is still being investigated and is suspected of being human caused. The Laramie Ranger District anonymous tip line is 307-745-2392.