Swede Fire Consumes More than 1,000 Acres, Residents Warned

By Bryce Cornatzer
28 July 2014

Two fires on the Shoshone National Forest are contained as a third grew to more than 1,000 acres over the weekend.

Officials contained the eight acre Dilworth fire Wednesday. Friday afternoon, crews were able to contain the five acre Moss Creek Fire that was burning north of Highway 14-16-20, while south of the highway the Swede Fire sent plumes of smoke into the air.

Flights were conducted over the weekend to read the thermal activity of the Swede Fire. The Swede was ignited by lightning Wednesday afternoon and is currently burning 13 miles south of Highway 14-16-20 in the Washakie Wilderness, 36 miles west of Cody.

Sue Stresser is the Clarks Fork District Ranger with the Shoshone. She says this year's fire season got off to a quick start. Crews have been successful in managing the fires with the exception of the Swede. A flight over the area Saturday revealed that the burn had consumed 1,500 acres and was slowly increasing in size.

“Our objectives for managing this fire,” said Stresser, “the first thing and most important thing to me is human safety. I'm not just talking about the public, I'm also talking about the firefighters. Any time we're looking at doing any action on this fire I'm worried about the firefighters as well as the people who live around here. The second thing is property—the values along the North Fork corridor. The third thing is, because this was a naturally-caused fire—we're going to use this fire to manage resources.”

Clint Dawson is the Assistant Fire Management Officer with the Shoshone. He says the fire is pretty well contained within rock ridges and will not spread east or west. The fire could spread north, into the Wapiti valley. Fuels there are lighter than in the backcountry but those fuels are dry and could still feed a fire.

“As we move further down the Elks Fork, the North Fork corridor sits down below,” said Dawson. “We anticiapte this fire moving north if we don't get a weather event. Once it makes its way around the corner of Tarmigan Mountain, then we're right into the upper-end of Pagoda Creek.”

Dan and Tana Shively live up the Pagoda Creek. Though they keep-up their property, they're a little nervous with the way conditions are looking on neighboring properties.

“We're the last cabin on the creek so the first one to come down,” said Tana.

“If it makes the bend around Tarmigan Mountain,” said Dan, “there's a lot of stuff up there to burn.”

Debbie Whitmer owns a cabin on Pagoda Creek as well. If the fire doesn't end by the time she and her family leave for the summer, some decisions on packing-up valuables are going to have to be made.

“Our son was here during the Gunbarrel Fire,” said Whitmer, “he loaded stuff up. We've got a storage unit in town. We've got to make some decisions. We don't maintain our property as good as the Shivleys but there are several people in between us that don't do anything.”

Fire officials will continue to release information as conditions change.

Printed materials will be made available at the Wapiti Lodge, the Wapiti Elementary School, Red Barn, and the post office.

Fire status updates will also be provided on InciWeb and the Forest Service Twitter feed.
 
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Location : Cody