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Wildfire burns roughly 528 acres near Jeffrey City

Aug 8, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Authorities say a wildfire near Jeffrey City that started by lightning Monday has scorched an estimated 528 acres and is about 50 percent contained.

The fire, which is being called the Sheep Park Wildfire, is burning in sagebrush, grass and timber, according to a news release from the Bureau of Land Management.

The blaze is burning about nine miles southeast of Jeffrey City between Highway 287/789 and Interstate 80. Smoke from the fire has spread north into the Riverton and Lander communities.

Fire activity has included running, torching and short-range sport fires. Resources from the BLM's Wind River/Bighorn Basin District, Fremont County, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service and Wyoming State Forestry are fighting the fire.

Dispatched resources include engines from the BLM, Forest Service and Fremont County, hand crews, an initial attack squad, three interagency hotshot crews, three helicopters, single engine air tankers and air attack. In all, about 150 people are working on the fire.

Incident commander Ryan Sundberg's Type 3 Incident Management Team is managing the fire.

"Good progress has been made with hand crews and air resources," Sundberg said in the release.

According to the release, winds have been mostly calm, but private cabins, the historic Sparhawk Cabin and various communication site towers are being threatened.

"The highest priority is always firefighter safety, and this fire is burning in a high-risk environment," the release stated. "Known hazards include mind shafts, gas and oil lines and hydrogen sulfide."

Outdoor recreationists are urged to use caution or avoid the area entirely because fire behavior can change suddenly and fire spread is unpredictable if high winds develop.

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