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Wind slows Glendo firefighting

Jul 18, 2012 - By Bob Moen, The Associated Press

220 crew on scene; acreage tops 11,000

CHEYENNE -- Firefighters labored Tuesday to regain containment they lost the previous night on a wildfire burning near Glendo State Park in southeast Wyoming.

The Sawmill Fire, which started Saturday on a Wyoming National Guard training area near the park, has burned about 23 square miles of timber and grass about 7 miles southeast of the town of Glendo and about 100 miles north of Cheyenne. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Some 220 firefighters have gained about 20 percent containment by Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, firefighters had the fire about 30 percent contained, but thunderstorms Monday night brought gusty winds and little rain, driving the fire beyond some established lines and dropping containment down to 15 percent by Tuesday morning, according to Cathy Lujan, spokeswoman for the Wyoming State Forestry Division.

No structures have been lost, and no residents have been forced from their homes, but the east side of Glendo State Park, which features six campgrounds, is closed.

The west side of the park and Glendo Reservoir remain open.

Lujan said the fire is not burning on park land, but the east side of the park is being kept closed as a precaution in case the fire suddenly switched direction and headed for that area.

"It's just if it made that turn it would be too tough to evacuate that many folks," Lujan said. "It's more of a safety measure."

No structures have been lost, and no area residents have been forced from their homes.

Meantime, authorities in Grand Teton National Park now say lightning started a small wildfire last week on the west side of Cody Peak. Firefighters found an illegal campfire ring in the burned area last Thursday and originally suspected the fire was human-caused.

And most roads and recreation areas and facilities in Medicine Bow National Forest in southeast Wyoming have reopened after large wildfires northwest of Wheatland and west of Laramie burned thousands of acres earlier this month and last month, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest visitors should be aware that there may be occasional flare ups this summer in areas where the fires continue to smolder until they are put out for good by rain or snow.

Elsewhere, recent rains in Yellowstone National Park have allowed officials there to lift the prohibition on open campfires.

The rains also have helped firefighting crews to suppress the Blacktail Fire near the park's northern boundary. The fire began July 12 and has burned 29 acres. It's now about 95 percent contained and officials say they expect it will be fully contained by next week.

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