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Better day for firefighters

Jul 11, 2012 - By Bob Moen, The Associated Press

Crews attacked several new fires started by lightning in northern Wyoming in hopes of extinguishing them before they got established.

CHEYENNE -- Firefighters quickly pounced on any new wildfires in Wyoming as they sought to wrap up the fight against larger wildfires in the state that have burned tens of thousands of acres and dozens of homes over the past two weeks.

State Forester Bill Crapser said Tuesday that firefighters attacked several new fires started by lightning in northern Wyoming in hopes of extinguishing them before they got established.

"They appear to be getting most of them," Crapser said.

The fire situation has greatly improved in the state because of rain and cooler weather over the weekend, although red-flag warnings for warm, dry conditions have returned for much of central and western Wyoming.

Taking advantage of the lull, firefighters were being reassigned to fires elsewhere in the West or being given time to rest. Officials and others assessed damage to homes and buildings, and investigators worked to determine what started some of the fires where the cause remained in doubt.

The state's largest blaze, the 150-square-mile Arapaho fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest northwest of Wheatland, was 80 percent contained Tuesday. Fire managers don't expect to gain total containment because of a nearly 3-mile-long area where firefighters are unable to build containment lines because of steep, rough terrain.

Albany County assessors say the Arapaho fire destroyed 30 homes, 11 commercial buildings and dozens of outbuildings since it was started by lightning June 27.

The 6,200-acre Bear Cub fire in northwest Wyoming's Teton Wilderness was only 3 percent contained, but fire managers were withdrawing crews because the blaze was hemmed in by a previous burn, cliffs and rocky areas.

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