Crater Ridge Fire May Be Extinguished Thanks to Winter Storm

Crater Ridge Fire May Be Extinguished Thanks to Winter Storm

Written by on October 12, 2021

With winter weather pounding northwest Wyoming, it may be the season-ending event needed to finally extinguish the over 7,000-acre Crater Ridge Fire.

Wyoming will continue to stay under a heavy blanket of snow throughout Tuesday, Oct. 12. Forecasts for the Bighorn Basin call for anywhere from seven to thirteen inches of snow before the storm ends Tuesday night.

There is one definite benefit to this sudden influx of winter. Heavy snow may finally quelch the Crater Ridge Fire in Bighorn National Forest as it burns into its third month.

The Crater Ridge Fire was down but not out in September. Thanks to warm weather and strong winds, the fire slowly increased in growth, threatening to reach 8,000 acres in size.

Crater Ridge Fire 10-04

Courtesy InciWeb

As of Thursday, Oct. 7 – the last daily update from Bighorn National Forest – the fire had grown to 7,682 acres. It remains 70% contained.

These numbers show the stubbornness of the Crater Ridge Fire. While containment has stayed at 70% since early September, the fire has slowly increased in size. In the last two weeks, the Crater Ridge Fire grew over 300 acres.

Nevertheless, fire activity within the main blaze has been categorized as active but not aggressive for some time. The exact cause of the fire is unknown but suspected to be a lightning strike.

Firefighters spent the last week focusing on hot spots, mainly in Cub Creek and Crater Creek. Hot spots are new fires started by cinders spawning from the main body of the fire.

A full suppression strategy has been in place for the Crater Ridge Fire since it was first spotted on July 17. That strategy has been successful, containing the fire’s spread and preventing it from growing into areas where it could affect more people and structures.

Now, this week’s intense winter storm may finally stop the Crater Ridge Fire.

Since mid-August – when the fire was only 4,000 acres – the official consensus has been that the Crater Ridge Fire will continue burning until “a season-ending event.” That event would be the first heavy snowfall of the season.

Snow fell on the northern section of Bighorn National Forest only a few weeks ago. While it aided the firefighting effort, it wasn’t enough to stop the fire’s growth.

The size and intensity of this week’s winter storm may be the “season-ending event” needed to fully extinguish the Crater Ridge Fire.

The Crater Ridge Fire is the largest wildfire in the Bighorn Basin during the 2021 fire season. The only comparable blaze is 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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