CASPER, Wyo. — The U.S. Forest Service said on Wednesday that “the onset of consistent winter conditions and the lack of fire activity in the Mullen Fire burn area has enabled the Medicine Bow National Forest to lift the area closure that has been in effect since mid-September.”
While the closure has been lifted, the fire may still be smoldering.
“Most of the burn area has cooled, but heat may still exist in thick timber stands and deadfall,” the Forest Service said. “Smoke has not been visible for several weeks.”
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While the public can access the burn area in the southern Snowey Range, Albany and Carbon Counties in Wyoming as well as in Jackson County, Colorado, there is one exception.
“Due to fire damage and hazards in the vicinity of the Rail Trail, approximately seven miles of the non-motorized trail, from Fox Park to Lake Owen, will remain closed to public use until mitigation work can be completed,” the Forest Service says. “The parking area and toilet on the northwest corner of Lake Owen, near the fishing pier, will also be closed.”
Forest Service personnel will continue to monitor the fire “as it remains in patrol status and has not been declared fully controlled (out).”
“The benefit of public access to the Mullen Fire burn area now outweighs the risks that exist,” Laramie District Ranger Frank Romero said in the release. “That said, we absolutely do not want to minimize that burned areas can be hazardous and that people should not assume that everything is back to the way it was before.”
“More than ever, visitors to the area need to be aware of the situations they are in. There is a lot of rebuilding, repair, regrowth, and work that will need to take place in coming years. The public needs to keep that in mind as they explore and recreate.”
People visiting the burned areas should practice caution, since many trees may be weakened by the fire “and could easily fall.”
“The burn area will have many ‘snags,’ or standing dead trees that are fire weakened and highly unstable, especially in high winds,” the Forest Service adds.
The fire was initially reported on Sept. 17 and burned 176,878 acres.
“Any additional fire information and updates will be provided by the USDA Forest Service on Twitter and on InciWeb,” the Forest Service says. “The Facebook page specific to the Mullen Fire will no longer be updated.”
The Forest Service added that they are serving the public remotely amid the COVID pandemic and are available by phone call. The following offices have site-specific information about areas impacted by the Mullen Fire:
- Brush Creek-Hayden Ranger District, Saratoga, Wyo., (307) 326-5258
- Forest Supervisor’s Office & Laramie Ranger District, Laramie, Wyo., (307) 745-2300
- Parks Ranger District, Walden, Colo., (970) 723-2700
“Additional information may be found on our website,” the release adds.