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Fire crews contain 16-acre wildland fire near Wolf Creek neighborhood; no structures burned

Fire crews mop up the Puma Fire by Wolf Creek 8/10/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Natrona County fire crews have contained a fast-moving wildfire that advanced within yards of homes in the Wolf Creek neighborhood Wednesday night.

Crews are now working toward “100% mop up” and investigating the origin of the fire in the dry fuels south of the neighborhood, Casper Fire-EMS Captain Patrick McJunkin told Oil City on the scene around 11 p.m. No structures had been affected.

Residents first reported the fire shortly before 9:45 p.m. The fire spread quickly through the cured, medium-length grasses in strong southerly winds, McJunkin said. Natrona County Emergency Management ordered the evacuation of some Wolf Creek residents.

Captain Patrick McJunkin on his last night with Casper Fire-EMS at the Puma Fire in Wolf Creek, 8/10/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

Agencies including Casper Fire-EMS, the Natrona County Fire District, the Bureau of Land Management, and Evansville Fire-EMS responded. McJunkin said crews staged a “running attack” on the fire, establishing an anchor point and working the flanks with two separate crews. McJunkin called it an “anchor–flank–pinch” strategy.

The primary concerns were the neighborhood structures and the power lines that run parallel to the property lines.

“On situations like this, we go big, fast,” McJunkin said.

Road closures were lifted and residents were being allowed back to their homes around 11 p.m., the Natrona County Sheriff’s Office announced on social media.

Responders told dispatch the fire burned an area of about 16.7 acres.

Fire crews mop up the Puma Fire by Wolf Creek, 8/10/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)

The Casper area saw only 26% of normal precipitation in July, and temperatures reached a record-high 101 degrees for the date on Wednesday. Combined with the high winds and well-cured fuels, “this had the potential to be a much worse fire,” McJunkin said.

One property owner at the edge of the field told Oil City he first knew something was wrong when his wife asked him, “Who’s cooking hot dogs?”

“Right as soon as I came out I could see the wall [of flame] in the grass,” he said, adding that it advanced a couple hundred yards up to the property line in about two minutes.

McJunkin said it is highly dangerous for people to try to protect their homes from an active wildfire with garden hoses. People should instead take preemptive measures by mowing and removing vegetation from around their homes on a regular basis.

Wednesday is Captain McJunkin’s last night with Casper Fire-EMS after 25 years of service. He told Oil City he is about to pursue a career with another civil service agency.

Fire crews mop up the Puma Fire by Wolf Creek, 8/10/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)
Fire crews mop up the Puma Fire by Wolf Creek, 8/10/22 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City)