4,000 Acre Crater Ridge Fire Likely to Grow Until It Snows
Written by Andrew-Rossi on August 20, 2021
Despite mitigation efforts, the Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest is over 4,000 acres and will likely keep burning until the year’s first heavy snow.
As of Thursday, August 19, the Crater Ridge Fire is 4,343 acres. It remains 30% contained, as it has for the past two weeks.
InciWeb describes the fire activity as “extreme” and “erratic.” Extreme crowning is being accompanied by short uphill crown runs as flame quickly jumps from tree to tree.
On Tuesday, the first structures were lost to the fire. Two structures administered by the Forest Service on the east side of the Crater Ridge Fire were lost during extreme fire behavior.
Earlier this week, firefighters were cold trailing, mopping up, and catching hotspots on the fire’s north perimeter to keep the flames south of Forest Service Road 111. Yesterday, despite these efforts, the fire crossed that road.
Weather conditions that would seemingly provide relief won’t provide much assistance in stopping the extreme blaze.
Rain showers are predicted throughout the weekend, but it will do little to stop the flames. Firefighters aren’t even sure how much rain with reach the fire. Most of the precipitation will get caught in the forest canopy, stopped before getting to the flames on the forest floor.
Hot and dry conditions will return to Bighorn National Forest. When it returns, any moisture gained will be gone quickly. Greener meadows may provide barriers to the fire’s spread, but live fuel moistures will continue to drop with seasonal drying.
Furthermore, those same weather conditions are preventing aircraft from flying over in the area.
Drones and fixed-wing aircraft equipped with infrared technology are being used to find spot fires. Unfortunately, the incoming rain may prevent any flights so that spot fires may start and grow.
The official consensus is that the Crater Ridge Fire will continue burning until “a season-ending event” – most likely the first heavy snowfall.
Despite this, full suppression efforts will continue. 185 personnel are still on the scene, cutting fire lines and containing hot spots.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect in Sheridan County, where the fire is located. For fire restriction information in counties throughout Wyoming, see https://wsfd.wyo.gov/fire-management/fire-restrictions.