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Crooked Creek Fire nears full containment

Oct 6, 2015 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Officials are expecting a wildfire west of Dubois to burn out as they have it almost fully contained. A small group of firefighters is keeping watch on the Crooked Creek Fire that at its peak drew dozens of firefighters and several aircraft from out of state.

By Monday, the fire was 92 percent surrounded by fire breaks. The small portion still uncontained was burning in steep, dangerous terrain, Shoshone National Forest fire information officer Carl Jungck said.

"It just isn't worth sending a firefighter into that area and getting him hurt versus letting that area go and burn out by itself," he said.

One fire engine with six firefighters was monitoring the area, however, and it is surrounded by contingency fire breaks farther back. The fire's size is at 359 acres.

"We're going to keep on monitoring it and monitoring that chunk of line until we are comfortable it is fully contained, but it'll probably stay at that 90 percent for quite a while," Jungck said.

It had not grown since Oct. 2 but also kept burning despite rain over the weekend.

"Because of the dry conditions out there and the trees themselves, it kind of shed the water off of them," Jungck said.

Efforts to contain the blaze since it was spotted on Sept. 28 were successful, Jungck said.

"The volunteers that came up from Dubois and Fremont County firefighters were just terrific," he said.

One firefighter was injured, but no property was damaged.

The injured man was a "swamper" whose job it was to move brush and woody material away from the fire after a sawyer with a chainsaw cuts it down. While working to build a firebreak along the edge of the fire on Sept. 19, the swamper's hand came into contact with a chainsaw, lacerating two finger tips, Jungck said. An emergency medical technician treated him at the fire, and the St. John's Medical Center in Jackson treated him. The hospital released him the next day, Jungck said.

The fire grew quickly from half an acre to reach 200 acres the afternoon of Sept. 28. Two hotshot crews and several air tankers were called in that same day. The blaze grew to more than 300 acres over several days, and a third hotshot crew along with a group of smoke jumpers and several helicopters joined the fight. An incident command team from Colorado also came to run the complicated operation, but turned control back over to a local group on Oct. 2.

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