Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest Burns 200 Acres

Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest Burns 200 Acres

Written by on July 19, 2021

The latest wildfire in the Bighorn Basin is less than 200 acres but could easily get bigger and harder to fight, with higher temperatures and fewer resources.

Bighorn National Forest staff are currently battling the Crater Ridge Fire. First reported on Saturday, July 17, the fire is in the far northwestern portion of the Medicine Wheel Ranger District.

As of Sunday, July 18, the fire was less than 200 acres. Local resources first responded to the fire on Saturday, and a Type 2 team was ordered and on-site by Sunday evening.

Flames are already displacing people. While no homes or structures are currently threatened, campers within the vicinity of the Crater Ridge Fire have been evacuated for their safety.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, Bighorn National Forest enacted a sizeable area closure while firefighting efforts continue.

A substantial section of the forest between U.S. Highway 14 north and the Montana state line is closed while the fire is being fought.  There’s no word on how long the closure will last.

Several U.S. Forest Service roads are included in the closure. For the safety of yourself and firefighters in the area, do not enter the area closure or any of the restricted roads and trails.

The cause of the fire is unknown but was most likely a lightning strike. Last week, the entire Bighorn Basin was under a Red Flag Warning as isolated thunderstorms contributed to dangerous fire conditions. In addition, high temperatures and strong winds made the entire area a potential tinderbox.

Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest

Courtesy Ryan Joseph

This is the second significant wildfire in Bighorn National Forest in Summer 2021, but the only active wildfire in the state – as of July 18.

In mid-June, the Robinson Fire in Bighorn National Forest burned through nearly 800 acres just 20 miles south of Buffalo. After five days, the fire had significantly diminished thanks to a timely response from local fire resources.

Bighorn National Forest enacted Stage One Fire Restrictions on Monday, June 28. At this point, all federal lands in northwest Wyoming are under the same restrictions.

Forest supervisor Andrew Johnson says these restrictions are about more than just preventing fires. Competition for firefighting resources is already high this summer – just one abandoned campfire could ignite a devastating fire without adequate resources to stop it.

“With increasing seasonal fire danger, we are implementing these restrictions to protect public health and safety,” said Johnson. “These fire restrictions will remain in place on the entirety of the Bighorn National Forest until further notice. Our fire managers will continue to monitor conditions, and if they improve, we will reassess the restrictions.  Coming in and out of fire restrictions is not feasible over short periods of time, and we appreciate the public’s understanding of the potential fire situations.”

Meanwhile, the Crater Ridge Fire seems to be under control. There are no daily updates on InciWeb, something usually reserved for fires that grow large enough to threaten local communities.

For the most up-to-date information on the Crater Ridge Fire, check out the fire’s InciWeb page.


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