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Hole in the Wall, Rourke, Squaw Mountain – Wyoming Fire Update

Smokey Sunset, Karen Snyder, K2 Radio

There are many fires burning in different parts of the state today, here are updates on three of the larger fires starting with The Hole in the Wall fire north of Clark which has burned nearly 4500 acres as of Thursday.  A higher level fire team has taken over management of that fire.  Beth Hermanson is the information officer and she says they’re estimating 10%  containment as of about 3 pm. And she says they had some help from the weather when showers moved through earlier. Structures in the area she says are not eminently threatened.

‘We are cautious and we do have resources on hand if that should become the case. We also are making contingency plans. So we’re well aware where they are. We’re talking to residents. We have resources on hand. We’re using all of our tools in our tool box and we’re trying to suppress this fire.”

Hermanson says they’ve been focusing on keeping the fire from moving north, in part, because it would mean firefighting in steep dangerous terrain.

Turning to the fire burning north of Gillette, that fire is called the Rourke Fire. Campbell County Emergency Manager Dave King says the fire has burned about 4200 acres, but there, he described the weather as responsible for churning up some unpredictable fire behavior .

“We have fire lines, but we’ve been having some extreme fire behaviors in the afternoons. On Wednesday, Tuesday and today that potential exists with the winds. Without the wind the fire has tested the lines several times. With the winds it could become a real problem. Which way the blows becomes the other issue, and as a thunderstorm cell moves through, your winds change direction and so that can be even more problematic.”

He says the Wildwood Retreat and residents in that area remain a concern.

“They’re really close to the over-story with the trees and everything and there’s not a lot of defensible space. That’s where the fire was approaching Tuesday night and caused the evacuation concerns. There were seven to eight residents fifteen structures back there that the fire did not get into and they spent most of Wednesday and some of Thursday morning trying to solidify the lines around that to keep it from being a problem if the fire should flare back up.”

King says for the Rourke Fire the Type II incident management team did not take over, because fire officials felt the crews already in place had a good handle on it. He says evacuation advisories remain in place, as do air quality advisories.

Finally, west of Wheatland the Squaw Fire as of Thursday afternoon  burned about 14,500 acres and fire crews have gained 100% containment.

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