Fire on Casper Mountain has burned 36 structuresSep 13, 2012 The Associated Press
CASPER -- Officials say they have counted 36 homes and cabins destroyed by the wildfire burning on Casper Mountain.
The number is a big jump from the seven confirmed earlier this week.
But fire spokesman Pat McJunkin says firefighters weren't able to get into the burned area until Wednesday to make a more accurate count.
In addition, they counted 16 outbuildings destroyed.
More favorable weather conditions allowed firefighters to be more aggressive Wednesday in battling wildfires threatening both Casper and Jackson.
The Sheep Herder Hill Fire has burned about 25 square miles near Casper in central Wyoming, and the Horsethief Canyon Fire has burned about 2,900 acres near Jackson in the northwest part of the state.
Thanks to cool temperatures and light winds, firefighters were able to intentionally set fire to about 100 acres of unburned areas within the Horsethief Canyon Fire perimeter Wednesday afternoon, denying the fire fuels if weather conditions turn for the worse, fire spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said.
"They're doing that in areas where there would be a greater chance for the fire to spread from and cross the fire line," Anzelmo-Sarles said. "So areas where it could jump and then run up a slope toward Snow King Mountain."
Fire managers were throwing 22 aircraft and nearly 300 firefighters at the Casper Mountain Fire, fire spokeswoman Laura McConnell said.
"They do have a couple of areas of concern, but they said overall it's looking good," she said.
The fire was about 10 percent contained Wednesday.
Firefighters planned to check the burned area for additional structures that may have been damaged or destroyed, McConnell said.
The fire has destroyed at least seven homes since it started Sunday on Casper Mountain, which overlooks the city of Casper. Another 750 residences were threatened.
About 400 residents have been forced to leave their homes. Some stayed overnight at an American Red Cross shelter set up in Casper.
In northwest Wyoming, firefighters were trying to burn vegetation to deny the Horsethief Canyon Fire new fuels.
Firefighters were using a DC-10 air tanker to help fight the flames from above because two helicopters were grounded for maintenance, fire officials said.