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Medicine Bow fire reaches 3,500 acres; better-trained crews on the way to the site

Jun 7, 2012 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- 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.

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