Sweetwater County burns
August 1, 2018
Several large wildfires started in Sweetwater County, burning thousands of acres of land.
According to Sweetwater County Fire Warden Mike Bournazian, multiple wildfires were reported Saturday, starting at about 11:30 a.m., and continued into the early evening. Firefighters from throughout the county and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management responded to the blazes quickly after they were reported, but conditions worked against their efforts.
“But due to the extremely hot, dry and windy weather several of these fires gained ground and rapidly increased in fire behavior and rates of spread,” Bournazian said in an email.
The Black Butte Fire, which grew to 3,440 acres, was reported to be about 70 percent contained as of Tuesday evening. The Well Fire is approximately 19 acres in size while the Big Ridge Fire has grown to 305 acres. Both are completely contained.
The Laney Rim Fire has grown to more than 7,000 acres and is 5 percent contained. According to the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, the Laney Rim Fire is burning in land known as a priority
sage grouse habitat and oil and gas infrastructure that has helped limit the size of the fire. Low wind and lower temperatures also helped limit the spread of the fire.
“The Laney Rim Fire, which is located in extremely rough and steep terrain, spread rapidly under increased winds and pushed hard to the south.” Bournazian said Monday. “This rapid increase in fire behavior is what may locals saw just before sunset as the smoke column was very high and drifted into Colorado.”
Bounazian also said he was thankful for the BLM’s assistance.
“There is no doubt that if it had not been for the local BLM and their additional resources that were already in place, that these and several other fires would be much larger,” he said. “Especially considering the impact on the local fire departments as we quickly became depleted of our wildland fire resources and personnel in a matter of hours when responding to multiple fires.”
No injuries have been reported and the cause of the fires continues to be under investigation.