Crater Ridge Fire: Less Gained and More Contained
Written by Andrew-Rossi on September 8, 2021
No news is good news for the Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest, as firefighters work to increase containment while the acreage stands unchanged.
News on the still-burning Crater Ridge Fire is becoming less frequent. Instead, daily updates have transitioned to periodic bursts of news, primarily good, showing that the fire is finally dying down.
The Wyoming Type 3 Incident Management Team –managing the fire for the past month – is preparing to hand over control. As of Sept. 6, a Type 4 incident commander is shadowing the Type 3 Team and assume control on Wednesday, Sept. 8.
The Crater Ridge Fire stands at 6,232 acres in size and – as of Tuesday, Sept. 7 – is 74% contained.
Since the beginning of September, the fire’s containment has significantly grown. Extensive fire mitigation efforts are largely to thank, having been implemented since the fight began on Jul. 18. The fire hasn’t gained any acreage in nearly two weeks.
However, the fire is still considered active and smoldering. Helicopters continue to make water drops on spots where there is active smoke within the fire area.
Meanwhile, firefighters spent most of Labor Day weekend engaged in suppression repair and backhauling equipment. As a result, the number of personnel on-site has dropped to just 63 individuals.
While this is good news, firefighters aren’t out of the woods yet – there’s always the chance the flames could flare up once again.
Due to dry, windy conditions, Bighorn National Forest was under a Red Flag Warning during Labor Day weekend. This week’s weather forecast for the area shows higher winds, higher temperatures, and lower humidity.
These are similar conditions to those encountered in late August when the Crater Ridge Fire exploded in growth. Extremely active fire activity helped the fire grow from 3,000 to 6,000 acres in just two weeks.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions remain in effect in Bighorn National Forest and throughout Sheridan County. In addition, the fire area closure in the vicinity of the fire remains in effect, although it has been modified to allow more public access.
The cause of the Crater Ridge Fire remains undetermined but is believed to have been a lightning strike – not human negligence. This is in contrast to the much larger Robertson Draw Fire in Custer-Gallatin National Forest in June.
Even now, the Robertson Draw Fire is still burning and stands at 95% contained. The nearly 30,000-acre fire was caused by gasoline ignited by a sparkplug while a man was trying to repair his dirt bike.
The Crater Ridge Fire will likely not be fully extinguished for some time. The official consensus is the fire will keep burning until “a season-ending event” – most likely the first heavy snowfall of 2021.