LARAMIE – Wednesday brought both good news and bad for those fighting the Mullen Fire in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest west of Laramie.
The good news: The fire grew just 158 acres, and containment increased by 4 percentage points to 34% between Tuesday morning and about 10 p.m. that night.
The bad news: That measurement was taken just before the start of a very windy 24 hours that started Tuesday night. The wind was from the west and northwest at 30-40 mph, with gusts reaching up to 75 mph.
The massive fire, burning in the heavily forested mountains about 30 miles west-southwest of Laramie was measured at 176,371 total acres, according to a fact sheet released at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday by a Southern Area Type 1 Blue Team managing the firefighting efforts.
The containment of the fire perimeter is on the western edge and southern edge to north of Lake Owen, except for a section near Woods Landing.
The total number of firefighters and support staff was decreased to 1,137, but aircraft operations were limited, if not grounded completely, due to strong winds.
The Albany County Sheriff’s Office also released a statement Wednesday that Fox Creek Road was opened to local residents only. The public was advised to slow down and use caution with firefighters and fire equipment in the area and using the road.
Some of the events included in the Wednesday morning fact sheet included:
Snow persisted in the highest elevations of the fire area and in shaded areas at lower elevations. Patchy fire movement occurred where fuels dried out.
Despite strong winds (Tuesday), fire behavior was minimal in most areas. The finger near Woods Landing was contained on the south side. Active fire and strong winds in the Albany area created spot fires, which firefighters put out in the grass near Wyoming Highway 11.
On Wednesday, firefighters monitored and engaged the fire where possible, but were cautious because of high winds and blowing debris and ash. Crews were in the process of repairing dozer lines and fences and chip brush piles from community fuel reduction work near Ryan Park. Structure protection in all areas of the fire remained a priority.
Virtual community question-and-answer sessions are scheduled at 5 p.m. every day, livestreamed on the Mullen Fire information Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MullenFire.