Cool, Clear Weather Aids Plane, Chopper Work at WY Fire

Firefighter helmet

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Firefighters hoped to take advantage of cooler weather Monday to protect cabins and dump water on a wildfire that grew rapidly over the weekend into one of Wyoming’s biggest in recent years.

The fire in Medicine Bow National Forest about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Cheyenne more than doubled to 122 square miles (315 square kilometers) on Saturday but calmed down with the arrival of cold air and light snow Sunday.

Cool, clear weather Monday gave firefighters hope that a fleet of aircraft could beat back the flames, especially near a handful of small, mainly recreational-type cabin communities on pockets of private land within the forest.

They were using eight helicopters and eight airplanes to scoop water from Rob Roy Reservoir and other lakes to drop on the fire, fire information officer John Peterson said.

“Today is going to be a day where those aircraft can really support firefighters on the ground,” Peterson said.

The fire had burned into one cabin community, Foxborough, but officials weren’t yet able to get in and assess any damage, Peterson said.

Fire engine crews planned Monday to visit similar communities at risk and take steps such as moving firewood and propane tanks away from cabins and setting up sprinkler systems, Peterson said.

The forecast called for lighter winds and cooler temperatures compared to last week, with winds up to 10 mph (16 kilometers per hour) and high temperatures in the 50s (10-15 Celsius). Even so, the fire would likely remain active, Peterson said.

The Mullen fire’s recent growth made it bigger than the Roosevelt fire, which charred almost 100 square miles (250 square kilometers) of western Wyoming forest and destroyed 55 homes in 2018.

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