Hwy 191 closed briefly due to grass fire
September 2, 2006
(Updated 9/4/06) Highway 191 north of Daniel Junction was closed briefly Saturday evening due to a report of a grass fire.
Firefighters from the Daniel Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene near mile marker 119 on Hwy 191 north of Daniel at approximately 5:00 pm and were joined by a Pinedale engine. Crews from Big Piney, Kendall Valley and Bondurant volunteer fire departments also were called out. A total of 9 engines, 2 water tenders and 31 firefighters responded to the blaze which was a grass and sagebrush fire burning out of control on State land on the west side of the highway, just south of Warren Bridge.
Highway 191 was closed for public safety as the fire bumped the road. Search and Rescue crews were called out as a precautionary measure in case residents in the Warren Bridge Subdivision needed to be evacuated. Fortunately, the fire was contained to the west of the highway and no residences were damaged. Winds were light Saturday evening and there was no fire spotting across the highway.
A helicopter from the nearby Battle Mountain fire was deployed by the US Forest Service to assist and it was instrumental in knocking down the head of the fire and slowing it before it got to Highway 191.
The fire lost steam as it ran into lighter fuels near the road. Crews were able to knock it down at Highway 191. Firemen were then able to work the flanks as more resources arrived, and the fire was contained by dark.
Local traffic only was allowed past the road closure point on Highway 191 north of Daniel Junction. The Sublette County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) opened up a single lane of through traffic on the highway around 6:30 pm, then reopened it completely by 8:00 pm.
The SCSO alerted Bob Rule, owner of KPIN Pinedale radio, and asked him to announce the road closure on the radio to help get the word out for anyone trying to travel between Pinedale and Bondurant. Bob drove to the station and made multiple live announcements during the closure to alert the public of the status of the temporary road closure due to the fire.
Fire crews were back on the scene on Sunday to do some more mop up and put the fire completely to bed. The fire, which is being called the Phillips Fire, was contained and controlled at 52 acres by Monday. Crews from Daniel, Pinedale and Kendall Valley spent 9 hours on Sunday mopping up.
The cause of the Phillips fire has been labeled suspicious and is under investigation by Sublette County fire investigators.
The fire started under the jurisdiction of the Daniel Fire Department and was then later turned over to John Blaha, Sublette County Fire Warden. Ben Franklin, with the Daniel Volunteer Fire Department, started out as the Incident Commander. Franklin said he would personally like to thank everyone involved for their hard work: all the volunteer fire departments that responded, Sublette EMS, Sublette County Sheriff's Office, Search and Rescue, the Arson Investigation Team, and the U.S. Forest Service.
(Bob Rule, owner of KPIN 101.1 FM Pinedale News Radio, contributed to this story. Special thanks to Tom Brown who was driving back from Jackson Saturday night, and e-mailed to provide additional information about the fire and road closure for this article.)
JIM CREEK FIRE UPDATE
2,307 acres - Resource Benefit fire
The Jim Creek fire also picked up some momentum Saturday afternoon, with the smoke column more prominent and clearly visible as far south as Big Piney. The blaze made a run on the southeast corner of a ridge up the face of Kendall Mountain, according to Pinedale District Ranger Craig Trulock. Despite all the smoke, fire managers are still happy with the progress of this fire, which is being allowed to burn and benefit resources in the area. The fire is burning in the Bridger Wilderness. Crews are on the ground monitoring the progress and direction of that fire. This fire was started by lightning on July 26th and is approximately 24 miles north of Pinedale. It is currently 2,207 acres in size with three people monitoring the fire’s progress. The Jim Creek road is closed for public safety. More info, maps and photos of the Jim Creek fire are online at: www.inciweb.org/incident/299/
BATTLE MOUNTAIN FIRE UPDATE
1,370 acres, 50% contained
The Battle Mountain fire is also going well, according to Trulock. This fire is burning in the Moose-Gypsum area of the northern Wind River Mountains, one drainage north of the Jim Creek Fire. This fire is three miles west of Green River Lakes campground. There are 150 personnel assigned to this blaze. Firefighters have “a good handle” on that fire, said Trulock on Saturday. They are utilizing hose lays and helicopter bucket drops to get water on hot spots and mop up the fire. (A helicopter from this fire was let go for a short time to assist with the grass fire that briefly closed Highway 191 on Saturday evening.) The Battle Mountain fire was started by lightning on August 24th. The Moose-Gypsum Forest Service Road 680 is closed to general public traffic. Depending on fire activity, the Green River Lakes road and campground may be closed at any time. The fire is burning to the north and east, away from Red Cliff Bible Camp and the residences near Hwy 352. More info on the web: www.inciweb.org/incident/448
PURDY FIRE UPDATE
23,000 acres, 65% contained
Interior torching continued Saturday within the Purdy Fire
perimeter. Temperatures in the 70's coupled with dry air caused several unburned islands to burn out. Firefighters strengthened control lines and mopped up to achieve 65 percent containment. Warm dry temperatures will
continue through the weekend with a possible change in weather on Tuesday. The rehabilitation of non essential dozer line continues. An excavator or "track hoe" is used to pull back the previously excavated top soil. Additional material such as logs and rock are also pulled in on top of the old dozer track. Water barring and seeding can also be utilized if needed. Dozer lines around the Union Pass and Porcupine subdivisions have been rehabilitated. Efforts will now focus on several secondary containment lines no longer needed for the suppression effort.
The Union Pass Road is open, along with Lake of the Woods. A partial closure is still in effect for portions of the Purdy fire area. Forest visitors are asked to drive slowly along the Union Pass road. There is still a considerable amount of fire traffic on the road.
Fire danger remains VERY HIGH on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and fire restrictions are in effect. Campfires are allowed in developed campgrounds only.