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Alpine Lake fire doubles; monitoring continues

Aug 17, 2012 - By Christina George, Staff Writer

Officials say the Alpine Lake Fire burning on the Wind River Indian Reservation has nearly doubled in size from the 1,342 acres reported Wednesday.

Wind River Agency spokesman Karl Brauneis said the wildfire reached 2,208 acres as of Friday morning.

"Our plan is to fly (over) the fire later today for a new acreage update," Brauneis said in a news release issued Friday. "The fire is burning in a nice mosaic with what we estimate as a 50 percent burn area within that 2,208 acres."

Because of rugged terrain and safety concerns, no firefighters are on the ground fighting the blaze at this time.

Brauneis said Unaweep and Bighorn wildland fire modules were airlifted into the fire zone to monitor and collect field data for assistance in the long-term planning and management of the fire. The Unaweep unit is camped at Deadman Lake, and the Bighorn unit is at a kettle lake in the northern part of the fire area.

"They will provide us with current information on fire behavior and assess possible areas where we can do 'potential' future helicopter bucket work to hold the fire to pre-planned locations," Brauneis said.

Counting the Fort Washakie Helitack crew, there are now 20 individuals assigned to the fire.

The fire is burning lodgepole pine, whitebark pine, spruce and fir in an area about 15 miles up drainage of the Bull Lake Reservoir at 9,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation.

The fire was discovered Aug. 7. The cause remains under investigation.

Brauneis said the Windy Ridge trail to Deadman and Alpine lakes remains closed to the public. The Mark Tree trail from the Fitzpatrick Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest was also closed after the fire moved into the forest and burned about 13 acres.

A public meeting is tentatively planned for Tuesday, Aug. 21, in Fort Washakie. Brauneis said the gathering is to inform the communities how reservation lands are being managed because of the wildfire.

He said plans for the meeting should be confirmed by Monday.

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