CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said during a press conference on Monday, Oct. 5 that he spent time last week to observe firefighting efforts on the Mullen Fire burning in southeastern Wyoming and northeastern Colordao.
“I want to thank the firefighters again that have been working over there,” Gordon said. “I saw that fire first hand and I saw the amount of work that they were doing to protect buildings and the amount of smoke they had going even when the fire had gone through.”
“They face extraordinarily challenging conditions. The ground is very rough and, as a rancher growing up fighting fires, I can attest first hand to the challenges that they are facing there. We have about 29 homes lost and 31 additional structures.”
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The fire has burned 151,711 acres and is estimated at 14% contained as of Monday.
“This makes it one of the largest fires in our history,” Gordon said of the fires size.
The National Park Service said that the 1988 wildfire in and around Yellowstone National Park burned “more then 1.5 million acres of national park, national forest, and private forest land” in Yellowstone, Wyoming and Montana.
The NPS said that Wyoming also saw the Bighorn Fire burn 500,000 acres in 1876.
The Mullen Fire is already larger than the biggest wildfire in Colorado history. That is the Pine Gulch Fire which burned 139,007 acres this summer. That fire is 100% contained, according to InciWeb.
Gordon noted that the fire has caused air quality issues in the region.
“If you’re here in Cheyenne you’ll note there is a smell of smoke in the air,” he said, adding that the Capitol city saw similar conditions last weekend.
Gordon added that over 1,100 personnel are fighting the Mullen Fire with a Type 1 incident management team set to take over command of the firefighting efforts on Tuesday.
In addition to thanking firefighters for their efforts, Gordon acknowledged that the fire has disrupted people’s lives with some evacuated from their homes for weeks.
“This is a tremendous strain on them and a tremendous loss,” he said.
Gordon added that with warm and dry conditions forecast for the week, the fire could continue to spread.
“Crews will need a significant change in weather to make more progress on this fire,” he said.
Gordon added that due to COVID-19 crews are broken up into multiple camps. He said the Wyoming Department of Health has been providing COVID-19 testing to firefighters.
He added that the fire draws attention to the need for people to “think critically about forest management.”
“With better forest management and our ability to do carbon capture and sequestration, not only can we preserve jobs here in Wyoming, but we could do a better job of attending to our forests and limiting perhaps the spread of future fires,” Gordon said. “We do hope for the safety of our firefighters, we thank them for their labors and we look forward hopefully to their ability to contain this fire even more even, though we don’t anticipate full containment until the end of this month.”