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Fire grows to 1,900 acres as it enters more forested area
The Fairfield Fire burned west on Tuesday afternoon along the north rim of Sinks Canyon, leaving a swath of scorched earth behind it, to the right. The blaze was estimated at 1,909 acres as of 1 p.m. Wednesday. Photo by Eric Blom

Fire grows to 1,900 acres as it enters more forested area

Jul 24, 2013 - By Eric Blom Staff Writer

The wildfire in Sinks Canyon grew more than 1,900 acres by Wednesday morning. Westerly winds pushed the Fairfield Fire away from the Homestead Park subdivision and uphill.

"There's no resources that are up there, but what we're watching for is that it's not able to get into that area (to the west) and come back around," U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Carl Jungck said. "It's pushing into the forest now."

He the fire is 15 percent contained because officials decided a bulldozed line in front of the Homestead subdivision was considered strong enough to hold back the blaze.

Jungck said the fire is still under investigation after one fire investigator studied the fire's origin on Tuesday and another joined him on Wednesday.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, a fire investigator stated on two-way radio, "I don't think it was human caused. It's just not showing signs."

Smaller crew

Fewer firefighters were engaged in the battle on Wednesday -- 138 -- down from the Tuesday's total of 210, but officials said the decrease will not affect their ability to fight the fire.

"That was due to the local Fremont County firefighters have been sent home so they can initial attack other fires in the area and so they could go back to their regular jobs," Jungck said. "We're still manning the fire, we're still suppressing it, we still have people protecting those structures."

Local crews had largely worked to protect houses in the Homestead subdivision, but with the bulldozed line in place and the shift in wind direction, they were not needed, he said. More out-of-state fire fighters would arrive Wednesday and Thursday.

An array of aircraft was also battling the blaze Wednesday including six single-engine airplanes, two heavy helicopters, two light helicopters and a very large air tanker.

Wednesday morning, the firefighters were expecting a westward wind to push the fire deeper into the forest, Jungck said.

As the fire burned through brush and trees Tuesday night and into Wednesday, fire crews were on the edge of the fire. On the ground, they dug lines to connect natural barriers while aircraft dropped water and fire retardant.

Firefighters also burned brush and trees within the breaks in front of the fire to starve it of fuel.

Monday origin

A Forest Service employee first reported the Fairfield Fire at 11 a.m. Monday morning at its origin midway up the northern slope of Sinks Canyon uphill of Bruce's picnic area. Before it turned west, the fire had scorched several miles of the canyon's north slope from top to bottom, reaching to within 50 feet of subdivision's houses and within a few feet of Sinks Canyon Road.

Meeting Wednesday

A public meeting on the Fairfield Fire is at 7 p.m. Wed-nesday at Lander Middle School.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, a type-two incident command team drawn from across Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota took charge of the situation.

A local type-three team had been in command, Jungck said. The new team is better able to handle complexities such as the many air units and the close proximity of the fire to structures.

Sinks Canyon Road remains closed. The Homestead subdivision, U.S. Forest Service and Wyoming State Park Camp-grounds in Sinks Canyon, and the University of Missouri Geology Camp are still under an evacuation order. Sinks Canyon Road remains closed between the east entrance of the state park and the top of the switchbacks.

in the canyon.

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