CASPER, Wyo. — With drier weather in the area of the Sugarloaf fire in Medicine Bow National Forest, crews expect an increase in smoke, according to a fire department press release on Saturday morning. The fire is still 516 acres in size with 0% containment, and staff are working to remove vegetation – which could serve as fuel – from the south line of the fire.
After seeing higher relative humidity, cooler temperatures and rain on Friday, crews fighting the Sugarloaf fire are preparing for drier conditions to move in within the next 24 hours. Showers and storms are expected to become more isolated, with “brief, torrential rain, hail, gusty outflow winds up to 40 mph and dangerous ground lightning [to] continue to pose a threat to thunderstorms passing over or near the fire,” InciWeb reported Saturday morning.
“Temperatures will warm by 2 to 4 degrees a day through Monday and humidity will drop below 20 percent Monday,” the publication continued.
“Lighter fuels, such as grasses, will begin to dry out after a few days of rain and higher humidity, making them easier to burn,” the release continued. Fire behavior is expected to remain minimal, with “creeping and smoldering in heavier fuels such as logs and stumps.”
A total of 360 employees are working on extinguishing the fire, according to the release.
An evacuation notice remains in place for Bear Creek Road between the Garrett intersection and Friend Park, the forest reported. There is a pre-evacuation for Friend Park and Fetterman to Garrett Ranch, and the American Red Cross shelter in Rock River remains closed.
Phase 1 Fire restrictions remain in effect for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and the Thunder Basin National Grassland. There will also be a temporary flight restriction over the area for both aircraft and drones. “Do not forget, if you fly, we can’t!the release said.
According to a Facebook post from the National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland, air resources are still heavily used by personnel. While “Mother Nature has provided her own air support in the form of rain showers and thunderstorms” and drops of water from helicopters have been unnecessary for the past two days, helicopters and tankers have supported a number of missions surrounding the incident.
Aircraft deliver supplies to spike camps, which are close to the fire and away from the primary base camp. They also support communication between firefighters by carrying valuable supplies such as radio repeaters.
In addition, the Facebook post continued, aircraft allow Rocky Mountain Complex Incident Management Team 3 to get a bird’s eye view of the fire, assess the fire’s activity and “where it wants to go.” The team can also use this view to understand environmental features, such as terrain and vegetation, to help them make realistic plans.
In the coming days, the team plans to “continue to build direct and indirect lines of fire,” assessing and protecting structures in Garrett Springs and along Bear Creek Road.
Those with information about the fire are encouraged to call the fire helpline at 307-314-2244. If anyone has information about how the fire started, they can call the Forest Service Law Enforcement Tip Line at 303-275-5266.