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Alpine Lake Fire flames now visible

Sep 6, 2012 - From staff reports

Flames from the Alpine Lake Fire above Fort Washakie are now visible along the front of the Wind River Range in the area of Bull Lake Reservoir, according to officials, who reported Wednesday that the blaze has reached 13,501 acres.

Reports state that wind gusts reached 60 mph Wednesday, pushing flames to the perimeter of officials' fire planning area.

"The fire has now positioned itself in places where we can take more aggressive fire suppression action," Wind River Agency fire information officer Karl Brauneis said in a Wednesday evening press release.

The Wind River Agency is part of the Indian Affairs bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

With high winds also forecast for Thursday, Brauneis said members of the Wind River Police Department, the Fremont County Sheriff's Office and the Wyoming Highway Patrol will monitor Wyoming Highway 287 near Bull Lake in an effort to mitigate any smoke problems the fire might cause to motorists.

"As noticed, the smoke is generally cleared out by morning," Brauneis said in the news release. "However the west wind as opposed to the southwest wind will tend to send smoke into Fort Washakie, Ethete, Arapaho and Riverton. A southwest wind will put the smoke to the northeast over largely unpopulated areas."

Brauneis said other reinforcements should arrive in the area Thursday to take the lead in suppression efforts, as local resources are "strained." He said he has requested the presence of Rocky Mountain Area Team A, a Wildland Firefighter Type II Interagency Incident Management Team headed by Todd Richardson.

Brauneis said temperatures should cool by Thursday evening, and there is a potential for moisture.

Roughly 450 acres of the Alpine Lake Fire are located on National Forest land within the Fitzpatrick Wilderness. On Tuesday, Brauneis said the fire burned through scattered vegetation in rocky areas along Bull Lake Creek.

"The fire is doing some very good things with respect to longterm rejuvenation of the ecosystem and forest health," he wrote.

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