Buckrail (Jackson, Wyo.) – Despite hot, dry weather and gusty winds Tuesday, a change in wind direction and fire suppression efforts helped prevent the Cliff Creek Fire from reaching the Granite Creek drainage on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, fire crews had observed flames on the ridgetop between Shoal Creek and Granite Creek, said Kathy Clay, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS Fire Marshal and Firefighting Coordinator Battalion Chief. Clay said the threat of fire descending into Granite Creek pushed crews to work diligently over the past two days on fire protection efforts around the area’s approximately 30 structures, including the Jack Pine Summer Homes.
“Yesterday’s Red Flag Warning intensified the urgency to complete the structure protection so crews can relocate,” Clay said in reference to the National Weather Service’s Wednesday warning about weather that was conducive to fire growth. “Firefighter safety is paramount to the success of the fire operation.”
Clay said that crews successfully set up a perimeter sprinkler system around the summer homes complex and examined each cabin to eliminate fuels that could be moved away from buildings or stored inside. Materials that crews moved to lower the risk of fire starts included wood piles, lawn furniture, grills and cloth umbrellas.
Clay noted that some members of the structure protection crews recently completed a three-day course presented by wildfire specialist Jack Cohen in Teton County in May. The course, offered by the National Fire Protection Association, focused on reducing ignition hazards in the area of homes. Crew members are putting many of the course’s learning points to good use up Granite Creek, Clay said.
While structure protection crews were creating defensible space, wildland firefighters were also attacking the fire itself via crews on the ground, seven helicopters and two “super scooper” planes, which were dropping water from the air.
The Cliff Creek Fire began from a lightning strike and was detected at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17, about 5 miles north of Bondurant in Sublette County. Campers at the U.S. Forest Service’s Cozy Creek Campground and residences south along U.S. Highway 189/191 and in the northern part of Bondurant were evacuated in the early hours of the fire.
On Monday afternoon, an estimated 70 people living, camping, studying, swimming and recreating up the popular Granite Creek area in Teton County were asked to evacuate.
Teton County Emergency Management issued the evacuation order at 2:45 p.m. on Monday when the fire spread north across neighboring Shoal Creek toward Granite Creek. Areas evacuated included the Jack Pines summer homes, Granite Creek Campground, the Granite Hot Springs pool, and Safari Club International Foundation’s American Wilderness Leadership School.
The Cliff Creek Fire has grown to 11,534 acres and is 10% contained. The Cliff Creek Fire management team is reporting that U.S. Highway 189/191 from Hoback Junction to Daniel will reopen to the public today at noon.
Buckrail (Dubois, Wyo.) – The Western Montana Type II Interagency Incident Management Team (IMT) reports this morning that the Lava Mountain Fire northwest of Dubois has grown to 2,157 acres in size and remains at 0 percent containment.
According to the news release, today’s cold front will bring drier and windier conditions and fire activity will increase significantly. Residents are advised to stay up to date on conditions as the day goes on and be prepared to make wise decisions, and, remember, if you feel concerned or threatened by fire activity, leave the area. Do not wait for someone to tell you; leave when you feel you need to.
With a cold front moving through the fire area later this evening and the potential for a thunderstorm this afternoon, everyone needs to be aware of their surroundings. It is important to keep traffic flowing in a safe and orderly manner on Highway 26 so that firefighting and evacuation efforts are not hampered.
Residences from Big Diamond Ranch to the Lava Creek Ranch and Double Bar J Ranch are currently in evacuation stage “GO”. This means they are evacuated. All other residences from Lava Mountain Lodge to Falls Creek campground are in stage “SET”. That is, you should have your emergency items packed. You should also stay informed of news and updates from the sheriff’s department, local fire department, and public information.
A Public Meeting will be held tonight at the Dubois Fire Department at 7:00 PM.