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Saturday evening: “cautious optimism” on Mullen Fire, which has burned 136,840 acres

Mullen Fire (Mullen Fire information, Facebook)

CASPER, Wyo– Rocky Mountain Area Blue Team Deputy Incident Commander Bill Wahl said Saturday that “there is some sense of cautious optimism that is starting to creep in” among crews working the Mullen Fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest.

He added that among the 1,069 personnel working the fire, there had been only 4 minor injuries.

The Mullen Fire has burned 136,840 acres, according to Incident Command at an Oct. 3 virtual community update at 5:00 pm.

Deon Steinlee, Planning Operations Section Chief Trainee, said at the update that structure protection in Foxborough and communities along the WY-230 corridor had been successful Saturday.

“All reports were positive coming out of Foxborough today.” He added that the fire was not moving much in those areas but was still active and putting out a lot of heat.

The fire remains north of the Colorado Highway 125-127 junction Saturday evening, where crews had spent 2 days burning fuels along the road to improve it as buffer against the Mullen Fire’s recent run to southeast. It crossed the border into Colorado Wednesday night. Dense fuels of lodgepole pine lay southeast of the highway in the Roosevelt National Forest.

An MMA (Multi-mission aircraft) aerial resource from Colorado equipped with infrared imaging technology identified spot fires south of the highway barrier Friday night, some as small as 2 square feet, but firefighters were able to find and suppress them.

Mulllen Fire perimeter 10/2/2020 at 11:00 pm (U.S. Forest Service)

On the fire’s western front, 3 burnout operations were able to take place from Ginger Quill Ranch north along the 512 road. Wind conditions allowed crews to adopt an offensive posture and dig control lines at the fire’s direct perimeter.

Containment on west flank of the Mullen Fire 10/3/2020 (U.S. Forest Service, Inciweb)

“Fire crews in the northwest portion continued to scout and identify suitable line locations to secure the fire. For the past several days, northwesterly winds have assisted in keeping fire from spreading rapidly in this portion of the fire,” Incident Command said Saturday.

More burning operations took place along the Branch II northern perimeter near Albany. Crews are digging and burning containment lines along the perimeter to the west. Steinle said prospects for Albany and Woods Landing to the east were good, as the fire was still active but had not advanced the last few days.

Containment on east flank where the Mullen Fire met the Squirrel Creek Fire burn area. (U.S. Forest Service, Inciweb)

Higher humidity recovery overnight Friday resulted in slightly decreased fire activity this morning, Incident Command said mid-day Saturday in an Inciweb operational update. Critical fire weather conditions are expected to return Sunday into next week.

Morale is high among crews, Steinle said. “Firefighters are tired though… they’ve put in long hours this season.”

Steinle said winds shifting to from northwest to the west Sunday and drier, warming conditions were of some concern looking ahead into next week.

Rocky Mountain Area Blue Team will transfer command Monday to Southern Area Blue Team, completing a 14-day tour on the Fire.

A chance for moisture could be coming next weekend, as the National Weather Service said a “pattern change” will be coming from the northwest.