LARAMIE – The Albany County Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that 29 homes and 31 other structures or outbuildings have been lost to the Mullen Fire, which has grown to nearly 100,000 acres.
It was first significant damage assessment for structures conducted by firefighting personnel since the blaze erupted Sept. 17 in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest about 40 west of Laramie and just southwest of Centennial.
The sheriff’s office contacted all 38 property owners after the damage assessment was made in lower Keystone, Lake Creek and Foxborough.
“On behalf of everyone working this fire, our thoughts go out to those who lost homes and property,” stated a sheriff’s office press release.
The statement added that if there is further damage to property, additional assessment and notifications will be made. Additionally, the sheriff’s office has received a lot of questions about when owners will be allowed to go see their property.
“Currently, it’s still too dangerous …,” the release stated. “When it’s safe to do so, we will work on setting up a limited re-entry.”
As of the latest update Wednesday morning on the U.S. Forest Service’s Incident Information website, https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7208/, the Mullen Fire had increased to 96,757 total acres and remained at 0% containment.
The total amount of firefighting ground personnel is at 887, directed by a Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Blue Team. The crews are also aided by large fleet of firefighting aircraft. More firefighting personnel and resources continue to arrive after being released from other fires in the western part of the country.
The fire was pushed Wednesday by strong north/northwest winds, increasing overall intensity and most of the new growth to the south and southeast toward the Wyoming-Colorado border, prompting more evacuations and road closures.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation closed Highway 230 from the Colorado state line and Woods Landing; Highway 11 between Albany to where it connects to Highway 130; and Highway 10 between the Colorado state line to where it connects to Highway 230 near Jelm.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado also issued an evacuation for all residents north of the junction of Highways 125 and 127, also known as “3-Way,” at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
Also in Colorado, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders at 5:45 p.m. for the Roach and Hohnholz areas in the northwest part of that county.
Fire activity is expected to stay at a high growth potential throughout the week because of weather forecasts include warmer temperatures, lower humidity and increased winds. The fire has historically been extreme with crowning, uphill runs and group torching.
The natural fuels in extremely rugged terrain consisting of dense vegetation, and live, blowdown and beetle-killed deadfall lodgepole pine trees are also contributing factors to increased fire activity.
An extensive Forest Service closure area, including all roads within, and evacuation zones are still in place, with ongoing firefighting actions focusing on direct and indirect fire line construction, structure triage, structure prep and point protection at the communities of Rambler, Albany, Fox Park, Wold, Woods Landing, Graham and adjacent areas, Lower Keystone and Moore’s Gulch.
Pre-evacuation orders are still in place for Meadow Plains Road south to Yankee Road; areas near Sheep Mountain to Lake Hattie Reservoir and north of Highway 230; and Centennial.
Protection of Rob Roy Reservoir remains a high priority, as it is a substantial water source for the city of Cheyenne. Another area of value noted as a priority is the Wyoming Infrared Observatory, owned and operated by the University of Wyoming on Jelm Mountain.