The Cliff Creek Fire north of Bondurant in Sublette County has increased to 21,483 acres. Almost 700 firefighters are fighting the blaze on the ground, in the air, as well as with some controlled burning. Crews have been working to protect about 23 summer homes and the Granite Creek drainage area.
Cliff Creek Fire Spokesman Andy Lyon says crews are letting the fire play its natural role in the rockier areas where there is nothing left to burn or where there is no private property. Lyon says crews are doing burnouts, which involve setting a fire inside a control line to burn the fuel between it and the edge of the fire. They start such burnout fires by shooting chemicals from a helicopter.
“They’re ping pong balls filled with a dry chemical which is injected with antifreeze just before its shot out of a helicopter and it bursts into flames about 30 or 45 seconds after it lands on the ground.”
Lyon says these burnout fires usually create heavy smoke, so drivers on highway 191/189 between Hoback Junction and Daniel should drive carefully if there is limited visibility.
Lyon also says to control fire it is important to understand it. He says there are three factors that influence fire behavior—weather, fuels, and topography.
“When it’s dry, when it’s hot and windy, when you have a lot of timber—that’s an explosive combination.”
Fortunately, Lyon says it has not been windy for most of the days crews have battled the blaze, but they are struggling to control it on steep hills with lots of downed timber. Private property around Granite Creek as well as Kozy and Granite Creek Campgrounds remain closed.