Governor Makes Pitch for No Fireworks or Fires
T. Moxham, U.S. Forest Service
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead notes that as of today there are over 1,400 men and women fighting fires in Wyoming. That does not include all of the local and volunteer firefighters who are engaged in initial attack. There are also 37 aircraft and more than 95 fire engines deployed to fight wildfires in this state right now. Those numbers are all expected to increase.
The governor said “hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes already this year and some have lost homes and cabins. We need to keep these people and the firefighters in our thoughts and prayers and each of us needs to be personally responsible by doing everything possible to prevent fires.” He urges people to avoid the use of fireworks and open fires and to be extremely cautious with anything that could cause a fire.
Mead has also called and sent letters to every county to ask that they institute fire restrictions. In addition to the fire-specific Incident Management Teams, a State Operations Center is fully operational, and staffed 16 hours a day, 7 days a week and will monitor all fires and evacuations. The SOC is being run in coordination by the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, the Wyoming National Guard and Division of State Forestry. The Wyoming National Guard has been active in fighting fires. Currently, two Black Hawk helicopters from the National Guard are fighting the Oil Creek Fire near Newcastle.
Mead said “we are throwing all the resources we can at these fires, but it is still early in the season and the forecast for the rest of the summer is not good. This means all of us must pitch in and do everything we can to prevent fires."
In addition to the Office of Homeland Security, National Guard and State Forestry other agencies and organizations that will be involved in the State Operations Center include: WYDOT, Agriculture, Health, Tourism, State Parks, Game and Fish, the Business Council, Red Cross and Serve Wyoming.
The counties with fire bans as of July 2, 2012 are: Natrona, Lincoln, Uinta, Sweetwater, Carbon, Albany, Laramie, Converse, Platte, Goshen, Big Horn, Sheridan, Weston, Campbell, Johnson, Niobrara, Washakie and Crook. Others are expected soon. State Parks, State Lands and the Game and Fish Department all have fire bans in place.