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Officials thank forest users for practicing fire safety
Aug 9, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
U.S. Forest Service officials thanked local residents for practicing fire safety so far this summer.
"People have been doing a great job," Forest Service fire management officer Jay Slagowski said Friday. "As far as human starts, they've been pretty much nonexistent. (Our forest fires) have all been natural causes."
Slagowski said three forest fires just outside of Fremont County were started by lightning strikes. Though they aren't burning locally, he said residents can see and smell evidence of the fires, especially in Dubois.
"(They) pump a lot of smoke in here," he said.
Slagowski is paying closest attention to the Hardluck Fire, which started July 17 "deep in the Washakie Wilderness" about 52 miles southwest of Cody, according to InciWeb.
"That's about 40 miles straight north of us," he said.
A fire detection crew discovered the blaze July 20, by which point flames already covered many acres. As of Friday, the fire was measured at 15,628 acres.
"We're watching the Hardluck Fire really close right now as things dry out again," Slagowski said. "It has some potential to come into the DuNoir Valley late in the year here, so we're keeping our eyes on (it)."
Green, Kendall fires
Slagowski said he is less worried about two fires that are burning south of Dubois in the Union Pass area.
"The Bridger-Teton National Forest has staffed both of them," Slagowski said. "They're taking action on both, so I'd say low probabilities there."
The incidents are located outside of the county, but Slagowski said residents can see evidence of the flames.
"Both of those fires have been very visible on dry, windy days," Slagowski said.
The Kendall Mountain Fire was last measured at 158 acres and is burning in high, rocky terrain in the Bridger Wilderness east of Boulder Basin in the Upper Green River Valley. It was started by a lightning strike Aug. 1.
A similar event on the same day ignited the Green Fire, which now covers 549 acres about 15 miles north of the Kendall blaze.
Slagowski said it's "just that time of year" when fire danger is high in Fremont County. There are no restrictions on fire use in the area, but Slagowski said people should continue to use caution, especially with campfires.
Residents also can help by looking for signs of local fires. On Thursday firefighters were able to extinguish quickly flames from a lightning strike that was reported at about 5:15 p.m. near the T Cross Ranch north of Dubois.
"It was reported early by the T Cross Ranch folks," Slagowski said. "That made a big difference."
He said fire crews and ranch employees worked on the fire together Thursday and returned to the scene Friday to ensure the blaze was out. The fire only grew to cover a tenth of an acre -- the smallest unit of measurement the Forest Service uses for fires.
"That's like a single tree," Slagowski said. "We like those kind."
He added that weather conditions were favorable Thursday, with high humidity and cloud cover that helped officials contain the fire.
"We got a little precipitation on the zone up here last night -- not a great deal, but a little," Slagowski said. "But we also received a lot more lightning, so if things dry out again we could have a lot more initial attack in the area."