Crews responding to forest fire

Via the Wyoming News Exchange

BUFFALO — Portions of the Bighorn National Forest roughly 14 miles northwest of Buffalo are closed to the public as a 21-acre fire burns in remote terrain.

As of press time Tuesday, portions of the forest nearest the Gem Lake fire are closed, including North Rock Creek Trail 040.

According to the forest's public information officer, Sara Evans-Kirol, 22 fire personnel are working to contain the blaze, including two large Chinook helicopters, a smaller helicopter and the Gila National Forest Helitack crew. 

The Blacktooth Wildland Fire Module, the Bighorn National Forest's 10-person initial attack handcrew stationed in Buffalo and the Black Hills Wildland Fire Module established a “spike camp” and are working on the ground to suppress the fire by building containment lines.

Moisture over the weekend helped firefighters, Evans-Kirol said. This is the first major ignition in the Bighorns this summer.

The Gem Lake fire, so-named for its proximity to Gem Lake, ignited on July 14 when a single-engine plane leaving from Powell en route to the Johnson County Airport crashed near Willow Park Reservoir, killing both passengers from Hartwell, Georgia. 

U.S. Forest Service firefighters responding to what was a 1-acre fire on July 15 discovered wreckage from the plane crash near the Middle Fork of Rock Creek.

The Gem Lake fire is one of just two in Wyoming, according to InciWeb, the U.S. Forest Service's incident information system. The other is the Monday Creek fire burning in southeast Wyoming's Laramie Mountains.

Evans-Kirol said no structures are currently threatened by the fire.

The Forest Service is updating its InciWeb system periodically. Information is available by searching for the Gem Lake fire.


This story was published on July 28, 2022.


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