New Colorado Fire Crosses Into Wyoming, Forces Evacuations
Hunters and campers in southern Wyoming and Colorado have been forced to evacuate due to intense activity from a new wildfire that began just south of the border late Saturday and crossed into Wyoming Sunday evening.
The Ryan Fire is burning in Colorado's Jackson County on the Routt National Forest and Mt. Zirkel Wilderness. A Sunday night update from Aaron Voos of the U.S. Forest Service put the fire at 1,832 acres in size.
Smoke is visible from southeastern Wyoming as well as much of northern Colorado.
The fire origin is located three miles southeast of Hog Park Guard Station, two miles south of the state line and two miles west of Buffalo Ridge Trailhead, in the extreme northern tip of the wilderness area.
After the fire was reported late Saturday, helicopters and fire crews were initially able to implement suppression efforts until high winds fueled rapid fire growth mid-day Sunday. That forced aircraft and ground crews to disengage.
From there, fire managers focused on evacuating nearby hunters and campers. As of Sunday evening, Voos says that all known, occupied camps and hunters in the path of the fire had been successfully evacuated.
The Forest Service implemented a broad area closure due to the fire's extreme growth on Sunday. During this part of the year, the closure will mostly impact hunters.
The Hog Park Area in Wyoming has been evacuated and is now closed, while Forest Roads 496 and 404 have also been closed. Forest Road 80 in Colorado is closed, with hunters and campers in the area being evacuated.
The area around Wyoming's Blackhall Mountain has also been closed.
In Wyoming, elk hunt area 13 and deer hunt area 81 are closed. In Colorado, the closure is for game management unit 161. Local law enforcement and fire staff are assisting with the evacuations.
As the fire has quickly grown in complexity, fire management will quickly be turned over to higher-level teams. The type IV initial response will transition to a type III command on Monday, with Rocky Mountain Team Black -- the Type II team that handled the Badger Creek Fire and Britania Mountain Fire earlier this year -- taking over on Tuesday.
Some 50 personnel are working the fire as of Sunday night, with more on the way.
The fire does not pose an immediate risk to structures, and none have been destroyed so far. The nearest buildings are roughly three miles to the northeast at Big Creek and Jerry Parks in Wyoming.
The fire is currently zero percent contained, burning mainly both live and bug-killed lodgepole pine. The cause is under investigation and no injuries have been reported.
Voos says that the strategy for fire managers is full suppression, meaning direct actions where they can be safely and effectively executed.