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Casper Mountain, Jackson-area fires loom over homes

Casper Mountain, Jackson-area fires loom over homes

Sep 11, 2012 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- The toll from a wildfire south of Casper grew to seven homes destroyed and 750 threatened, while a fire south of Jackson kept hundreds of residents on edge and ready to evacuate in case flames advanced much closer toward the ski town.

Firefighters got help from the weather, though. Cooler temperatures and calmer winds bought time to put more people and equipment into action around the two fires.

"Humidity is up a bit," Larry Helmerick, spokesman for the Sheep Herder Hill Fire command, said Tuesday. "But it's still very rugged conditions and fuels are very dry, and that's hindering our efforts to contain this thing."

The Sheep Herder Hill Fire about eight miles south of Casper was the bigger of the two fires by far. Between the time it started Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning, it had burned almost 24 square miles.

Some 400 people remained evacuated from 150 homes on Casper Mountain.

Firefighters planned Monday to deploy more than a dozen aircraft against the fire. They included two large air tankers and seven helicopters. More than 200 firefighters and support personnel were on the scene.

"And more walking in the door almost as we speak. We're going to have a bunch of resources on the fire," Helmerick said.

Though firefighters got some help from the weather, they now had two fires to worry about in the Casper area. A second fire measuring less than 10 acres had started about a mile north of the main fire. The cause of both fires remained under investigation.

The Horsethief Canyon Fire south of Jackson has burned about 4 square miles since it started on Saturday.

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