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Fire sparked in dry, rough country; wet weather will assist

Sep 14, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Multiple crews responded Wednesday afternoon to reports of a wildfire north of Fort Washakie.

Fremont County Fire Protection District chief Craig Haslam said the blaze had covered 50-100 acres based on his last update.

He wasn't at the scene Thursday morning, however - staff at the district office said he was "chasing more smoke" that had been reported in the North Portal and Blondie Pass areas.

Due to the terrain where he was driving, Haslam's cell service was spotty, but he was able to relay some information about the blaze above Fort Washakie, which is within the Bureau of Indian Affairs jurisdiction.

"Last night we made initial attack with them up there," he said. "We put in some fire lines last night, and they're continuing to work it today."

Windy conditions Thursday had crews "a little nervous," he said, but he hoped the forecast for rain and possibly snow in the higher elevations this weekend would help extinguish the flames.

"That may slow things down a little bit for us," Haslam said.

The fire is believed to be lightning-caused, but Haslam noted that a full investigation will take place later.

Chasing smoke

The smoke reports he was responding to Thursday could be due to additional lightning-ignited fires. Haslam said there are "a lot of low-lying clouds" in the area, though, and those were hindering his ability to find the smoke.

"They're making it tough to determine exactly where it is," he said, adding, "We'll get up closer."

Wednesday's fire was reported at about 2:45 p.m. on Sage Creek Road about 16 miles north of Fort Washakie, according to scanner traffic.

Officials at the time said it covered 50 acres and was spreading in all directions.

Communication on the radio indicated Lander fire officials had responded as well as crews from Fort Washakie. Haslam said the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service have provided assistance above Fort Washakie, too.

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