Despite rainy spring conditions, wildfires are already starting to pop up around Natrona County. A three-acre wildfire closed down part of Highway 220 Sunday between Casper and Alcova near Coal Mountain Road, while another fire caused a traffic stop on Highway 259 near Midwest. Natrona County Emergency Manager Lt. Stew Anderson says the wildfire season typically starts around July 4th but with all the recent rains they thought that would be delayed by a couple of weeks. That, he says, is not the case.

"The fire was burning in really green grass and very green greasewood, but it was unfortunately burning very intensely, he said of the Highway 220 fire. "As far as what you would think in looking at it, you wouldn't think it would burn at all, but yet it was." A small breeze and the dead thatch under the grass from previous years contributed to the fire's growth, and Anderson notes the cheatgrass on the much of the flatlands has already dried out. "It's dry enough that on certain days we get the right conditions unfortunately have the potential of growing pretty fast."

Although the causes of Sunday's fires have not been named yet, Lt. Anderson says folks need to be careful about the possibility of touching off a blaze. For example, motorists who pull off the road into tall grass need to be aware the extreme heat from the catalytic convertor could start those grasses on fire. He also warns of tossing smoking materials out of your car window, or otherwise disposing of them improperly.

Lt. Anderson says Mother Nature keeps them busy enough with lightning, which can strike 10 to 15 miles outside of the storm.

Then, of course, there's the Fourth of July Holiday. "People better remember fireworks are illegal in all of Natrona County.  Unless it's a permitted public display type of thing, they're illegal. And every year we get fires."

Video Courtesy of Lt. Stew Anderson, via Facebook