By Ike Fredregill
Via Wyoming News Exchange
LARAMIE — The Badger Creek Fire was likely started by humans, but law enforcement has yet to determine the exact cause, a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson said.
“The length of the investigation is dependent on the fire,” Forest Service Public Affairs Specialist Aaron Voos explained.
“(Law enforcement officers) do attempt to get it done as quickly as possible, because it can affect quite a few things like funding.”
While the Forest Service is heading up the Badger Creek investigation, Voos said the agency wasn’t alone on the case.
“We work with other agencies,” he said. “However, it’s the primary responsibility of the Forest Service law enforcement to look into the investigation.”
With the investigation underway, Voos said he did not have any new information to release about the cause or suspects. If a person is charged with starting the fire, he said convicting someone could be a long process.
“On the Beaver Creek Fire (which burned Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming in 2016), once a suspect was identified, the county district attorney was involved with pressing charges,” Voos said. “That legal process is still ongoing from two years ago. Resource damage and suppression cost is taken into account during the prosecution. Wildfires impact a lot of different resources.”
Monitoring for potentially dangerous or illegal activity throughout a national forest can be a daunting task, so the Forest Service works with concerned citizens to stay in the know.
“The Forest Service and our law enforcement can’t be everywhere in the forest at once, so we depend on the public quite a bit for info about what’s going on,” Voos said. “If the public sees something — if it’s emergency, they should call 911 — but also if they think it’s something the Forest Service should know about, they can call our tip line.”
Firefighting efforts also continue in the national forest as dry, hot weather and moderate winds fan the flames.
Information gathered by field personnel and mapping efforts revealed the fire burned 21,310 acres as of press time Monday, but the actual footprint of the Badger Creek fire did not expand, the Forest Service reported.
While the fire is 90 percent contained, the Type III Incident Management Team determined Sunday a portion of the northern line is now considered uncontained after evaluating active hot spots. The change was due to hot spots near the perimeter, but did not affect the containment percentage, a Forest Service news release says.
Sunday, special teams felled hazardous trees allowing firefighters to safely work in uncontained areas and in the afternoon, some areas flared up causing group torching, but the flares did not threaten the containment lines, the Forest Service reported.
Firefighters were scheduled to continue monitoring the fire area Monday and attempt to secure areas that might pose a threat in the future.