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Burroughs Fire eases; work at site illustrates variety of responses
Sep 15, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
The Burroughs Fire north of Dubois is almost one-quarter contained, and many firefighters assigned to the blaze have been sent home.
Sixty-eight personnel were working at the 1,794-acre scene as of Wednesday - far fewer than the initial crew of 174.
"The Burroughs Fire perimeter has had little growth for the past nine days, (and) the fire is receiving precipitation right now," U.S. Forest Service fire information officer Carl Jungck said this week.
Areas within the fire and along the perimeter still contain unburned fuels, so Jungck said the blaze could grow in the coming weeks, and people will continue to see smoke coming from the area 12 miles north of Dubois.
But he said the remaining firefighters will control the spread of flames and use it to their advantage.
"They're not going to try to put the fire out, just because the fire is actually moving toward a road," Jungck said. "If it can get to the road, that will be a secure fire line. That will be the safest line we can have."
According to inciweb.gov, the area of closure surrounding the fire was reduced as of 6 a.m. Thursday. Jungck said the change was made to accommodate elk hunters trying to access the Five Pockets area behind Ramshorn Peak this weekend.
"A lot of people like going back there and hunting," Jungck said. "The smaller closure makes it so people are able to go through the Horse Creek Trailhead."
Closures now are in effect north of USFS Road 285, west of Forest Road 510 and east of USFS Road 736. The USFS Road 736 boundary follows Horse Creek to Parque Creek then heads north from two miles up Parque Creek and west to the wilderness boundary.
Roads that are closed include USFS 510, 504, 736, 692 and 504A. Open roads include USFS 511, 512, 512 1B, 285 and 514.
Jungck said no more mandatory evacuations are in place at area campgrounds or ranches.
The Burroughs Fire was discovered on Aug. 30 but reportedly began Aug. 29 when lightning struck about 12 miles north of Dubois.
The blaze is burning in a thick, timbered stand of standing dead and down trees along Burroughs Creek and on Ranger Ridge in the Upper Horse Creek Basin. Fuels involved include heavy dead and down timber affected by dense beetle kill.
Four residents and another 20 structures have been threatened by the flames, but officials said no property has been damaged as a result of the fire.
One firefighter suffered a twisted knee last week.
The group still assigned to the Burroughs Fire is considered a Type 2 team made up of firefighters from forests and parks throughout the state. An additional crew of Wyoming Fire Wranglers from the Wyoming Honor Farm will continue to assist as well, Jungck said.
A Type 1, or "hot shot," team was assigned to the Burroughs Fire soon after it was started by lightning Aug. 29, but that group has since been sent elsewhere. Jungck said the hot shots work full time on fires throughout the country, and they travel as a unit.
"They train together, they work together and they have the same shifts," Jungck said. "They're in together for the whole summer."
He said hot shot crew members usually develop a strong bond that enhances their abilities in the field.
"There's a lot of camaraderie and team building - it's really neat dynamics," he said.
"You can put (them) into more complex situations. ... As a team they know each other and know each others' capabilities, so they do a little more production usually and have a harder spot on the fire."
The five helicopters that had been assigned to the Burroughs Fire all have been relocated as well, Jungck said. Previously, two Type 3 helicopters were on scene - the smallest craft available according to Jungck.
"They're very versatile," he said. "We can use them (for) crew transports, or bucket drops."
A slightly larger Type 2 helicopter also was at the Burroughs Fire. Like the biggest Type 1 helicopter, Jungck said, Type 2 is mostly used for hauling water.
He said the larger types of aircraft are equipped with buckets or hoses that can collect water directly from area streams and rivers.
"(Type 1) could suck up 750 gallons of water into a tank that's made into the belly of his helicopter," Jungck said.
"Then (it can) turn right around really close to the area and drop that water."
Fire engines at the Burroughs Fire are classified as Type 4 and Type 6, Jungck said.
The latter engine is the smallest design; Jungck said it holds no less than 200 gallons of water and usually is manned by two firefighters.
"A Type 6 engine is a little wildland fire truck you see the Forest Service drive around in," Jungck said. "Fremont County has several (that) they go out and fight brush fires with."
Type 4 fire trucks are almost twice as big and carry about 750 gallons of water, he continued.
"So if you have a house out in the forest, you usually call for a Type 4 engine," Jungck said.
"If you call a Type 6, they're fighting the forest fire and are able to put the fire out before it gets to the houses."
Larger engines are impractical for use in forested areas, he added.
A Type 3 management team has been in place at the Burroughs Fire since the incident began, Jungck said, putting the blaze in the middle of the spectrum in terms of its severity.
"The fire went beyond the initial attack phase, and (we) were looking at a larger group of people coming in," he said.
A bigger team requires more operational management and supervision, Jungck said.