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Hardluck Fire tops 16,000 acres

Aug 16, 2013 - From staff reports

Smoke from the Hardluck Fire near the Fremont-Park county border north of Dubois is filling the Riverton Valley, obscuring the mountains in most areas and turning both the sun and moon a brilliant orange.

After three days of relative inactivity, the Hardluck Fire kicked up again Thursday as the weather warmed and dried. Officials now put the fire's acreage at 16,100 as of about noon Friday.

The blaze is about 15 miles north of Dubois in the Shoshone National Forest but is on the other side of the mountains in Park County. Fire managers have opted to let the fire burn, citing its remote location and lack of threat to inhabited areas.

Containment is reported at 0 percent.

After growing quickly to about 15,000 acres, the fire slowed to a near standstill as weather in the region turned cooler and more humid early in the week. Those conditions changed Thursday, however, and officials now say the weather this weekend will be ideal for more growth.

"Active burning is expected to begin earlier due to warmer, drier weather conditions," reads a statement from the U.S. Forest Service.

"Temperatures will be approximately 4 degrees warmer Friday than Thursday, and relative humidity will be in the single digits to low teens. Except for potential isolated thunderstorms late Saturday, the warming drying trend will continue for the next couple of days."

Fire monitors said an infrared flight was planned for Friday night to help establish the size and boundary of the fire.

Recreational users of the forest are advised to stay clear of the fire area.

In the immediate vicinity of the blaze, an area closure is in effect for the entire South Fork drainage beginning south of Aspen Creek beyond the South Fork Road (County Road 6WX/Forest Service Road 479.B).

The fire was caused by a lightning strike on or around July 20.

Elsewhere, two of five wildfires burning in remote parts of Yellowstone National Park are growing in hot, dry weather.

Park officials say the Druid Fire is estimated to be burning on 13 acres while the Alder Fire had grown to about 50 acres by Friday morning. Meanwhile, three smokejumpers and a helicopter are working to stop a new wildfire burning in the northwest corner of John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway. Dubbed the JDR Fire, it was reported Thursday afternoon.

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