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Crater Ridge Fire 67% contained; spot fires, heavy fuels still a concern

Aerial recon flight over Mann Creek Sept 1. (InciWeb)

CASPER, Wyo. — Federal fire managers said that long-term activity on the Crater Ridge Fire in the Bighorn National Forest “will depend on the weather, amount of residual heat, and the ability of for the fire to move into available fuels,” according to an update from Wyoming Type 3 Incident Management Team 2.

The fire has burned primarily in the forest’s dense, mixed conifers in steep, inaccessible canyons. “Some areas are completely inaccessible to check, even with aviation resources,” incident command said.

Those heavy fuels tend to hold residual heat, the team explained.

Command has reported 67% containment on the fire, which continues to move to the northwest “due to wind and slope.” Southeasterly spread “will be driven by fuels and terrain.” It is listed at 6,232 acres as of Sunday.

Aerial recon flight over Mann Creek Sept 1. (InciWeb)

The “highest threat” remains to indirect containment lines on the north, south, and western fire perimeters. 

Spot fires remain a concern, as wind has previously caused the fire to cross or spot over the Pumpkin Creek and Mann Creek drainages. The 1970 Pumpkin Creek Fire and the 2003 Little Horn II Fire burn scars checked some growth to the east and west due to reduced fuels. Greener meadows in those areas have also slowed growth, but fuels continue to dry as the season goes on.

The operational plan for the weekend includes direct containment where terrain allows, monitoring for hot spots, and repairing the landscape where suppression efforts have taken place.

The fire began July 17. The cause is listed as unknown.