Crater Ridge Fire Down and Out - But Area To Stay Closed

Crater Ridge Fire Down and Out – But Closure Stays Closed

Written by on December 13, 2021

While the flames are finally fully extinguished, the closure area surrounding the Crater Ridge Fire will remain closed for a significant portion of 2022.

Last Friday, Dec. 10, fire officials with Medicine Wheel Ranger District of Bighorn National Forest released a statement. In the report, the officials announced the Crater Ridge Fire – one of the year’s largest wildfires – has finally lost its flame.

After nearly six months, the last pockets of heat in the Crater Ridge Fire have been fully extinguished, ending its threat to Bighorn National Forest.

Reports of the wildfire first came in on July 17. The cause of the fire is unknown but believed to be a lightning strike.

Over the next three months, the fire went through multiple waves of slow creeping and intense growth – but stubbornly stayed ignited.  At some points – like mid-September – the fire grew thousands of acres in just a few days.

The Crater Ridge Fire was declared fully contained on Oct. 15, after the first significant snowfall of the winter season. However, there were still several pockets of heat within the perimeter.

Overall, the fire consumed 7,682 acres after three months of burning.

Crater Ridge Fire Closure Dec. 21

Courtesy Bighorn National Forest

However, the impact of the Crater Ridge Fire will be felt well in 2022, as a significant area within Bighorn National Forest remains closed.

A closure area was created around the fire to protect people and infrastructure. In the Friday statement, forest officials said the closure area would remain in effect throughout the winter and into next summer.

“Dozer lines and temporary roads need rehabilitated, and hazard trees along open roads need cut down,” said Brandon Houck, Medicine Wheel District Ranger. “Remains of the burned cow camp may also be a danger to the public and need to be removed.”

It will take a significant amount of time to complete all necessary fire rehabilitation before the closure can be lifted –  Summer 2021, and possibly longer.

A map of the closure area is available on the Bighorn National Forest website.

The Crater Ridge Fire was the largest wildfire in the Bighorn Basin and one of the largest in Wyoming during the 2021 fire season.

The only comparable blaze was the Robertson Draw Fire in Custer Gallatin National Forest. While that June wildfire burned nearly 30,000 acres, it was mainly over the Montana state line.

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