U.S. Forest Service calls in more firefighters to tackle increasing 'complexity' of 3,500-acre wildifire in Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming

Wendy Lisney

Wendy Lisney

Jun 7, 2012 – The Associated Press

LARAMIE, Wyoming , June 7, 2012 () – The U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday called on more experienced fire managers and crews to fight a wildfire in the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeast Wyoming.

Forest Service spokesman Larry Sandoval said the new fire managers were brought in because the "complexity" of the 3,500-acre fire had increased.

The move was "based on staffing capacity with those teams, as well as experience and expertise in dealing with these large fires," Sandoval said.

More crews were brought in to bolster those already on hand. Sandoval said the new crews brought the number of firefighters to about 150. They were also using helicopters and three air tankers.

The fire spread in most directions overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. In a disappointing development for firefighters, the fire jumped the Laramie River, which flows west to east on the south side of the fire.

"It's a pretty steep canyon right there, and we were hopeful that that would be a natural fuel break," Forest Service spokesman Aaron Voos said.

The fire is burning about 20 miles northwest of Wheatland and about 5 miles southeast of Laramie Peak in an area of rugged terrain mixed with ponderosa pine, brush and grass. Lightning is suspected of starting the fire late Sunday. It was 10 percent contained Wednesday night.

Elsewhere in Wyoming, crews are battling a new fire in Weston County in northeast Wyoming that has burned about 1,500 acres of timber and grass on state and private land. About 90 firefighters were sent to fight the fire, which was threatening power lines and structures.

It was one of several fires started by lightning Tuesday night, according to state Forester Bill Crapser. Other fires that started in Sweetwater County were put out soon after they started, Crapser said.

Crapser said it is state policy to extinguish fires on state and private land, but warm, dry weather so far this year have heightened the need to attack wildfires quickly.

"Even the Forest Service is being pretty aggressive this year just because as early as it is, there's a real hesitancy to let anything get much size to it if you can avoid it," he said.

Because of the dry conditions, Guernsey and Glendo state parks have enacted fire bans that prohibit wood fires, including those in established fire rings. Campers must use propane and charcoal grills with lids.

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