Perfect timing on wet weather for firefighters

Sep 15, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

County firefighters were able to stand back Friday and let Mother Nature do some of their work for them on a growing fire discovered Wednesday.

"It rained," Fremont County Fire Protection District chief Craig Haslam said cheerfully on Friday when asked for an update on the wildfire that ignited Wednesday above Fort Washakie.

The blaze had covered 50-100 acres by Thursday morning, Haslam had estimated, but on Friday he said his crews weren't even on the scene anymore.

"There's nobody staffing it today (that) I know of," he said. "They didn't want to put anyone up there with all the rain. ... We don't want to get people hurt on the roads."

In addition to the moisture, Friday's weather change dropped temperates drastically. Highs in the upper 70s and low 80s on Thursday dipped to the upper 40s in some locations Friday.

Other fires

The fire above Fort Washakie was one of several incidents his agency responded to Thursday, including a report of smoke that Haslam was "chasing" Thursday morning north of Riverton.

"I never found that one," Haslam said, "but I found another one."

He was referring to a grass fire that covered about 150 acres Thursday afternoon on Deer Creek Road near Castle Gardens east of Riverton.

Crews responded to the area to control the blaze, Haslam said, and by the evening rain had arrived to start dousing the fire, too.

"It was looking pretty good last night when we left," he said. "It received significant rain last night, and it's raining on it today."

Crews from the Bureau of Land Management will check the scene Friday, he noted.

One other fire, along U.S. Highway 287 near Fort Washakie, was started by lightning Thursday afternoon, Haslam said, but crews were able to put it out relatively quickly - again, aided by precipitation.

"It was a small fire, (and we) kept it pretty small," he said. "We got out there and got on it. (Plus), it was starting to rain."

If the current wet weather is not followed by more 90-degree days and high winds, Haslam said he will consider lifting the county wide fire ban that has been in place since July, though he noted that, despite the rain this week, conditions "could dry right back up."

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