First major forest fire burns south of Jackson
By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
June 26, 2012
Only days after Bridger-Teton National Forest elevated the fire danger to “high,” regional firefighters found themselves battling two midsize wildfires.
South of Jackson, observers reported what is now the 100-acre Fontenelle Fire on Sunday. The first major fire on the Bridger-Teton, it is burning about 70 miles south of Jackson and three miles west of the Scaler Guard Station.
A second wildfire, the 88-acre Cold Springs fire, flamed outside the Bridger-Teton, on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation east of Blackfoot, Idaho. It was likely responsible for the vivid sunset in Jackson Hole on Sunday.
The Fontenelle Fire, which is moving principally through the forest crown and throwing embers, was reported around 4:30 p.m. Officials are uncertain what started it.
Managers upgraded it to a “type three” fire Monday, meaning Bridger-Teton managers will require outside help, Forest Service spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said.
“This is the first [fire] of any significant acreage this year,” Cernicek said. “Right now we’re working on transitioning to the type-three incident team.”
Three helicopters and eight smokejumpers have been assigned to the blaze. The team was dropping retardant from the air on the south side of the fire Sunday. Firefighters shifted their focus to the fire’s north end near La Barge Creek Road on Sunday, Cernicek said.
There were no structures threatened and no closures or evacuations as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, Cernicek said.
The Cold Spring fire was reported to the East Idaho Interagency Fire Center on Saturday, spokesman Lynn Ballard said. The fire grew to 127 acres but never threatened any structures.
On Monday at 6:00 p.m., the Interagency Fire Center declared the fire to be out, Ballard said. The agency said the blaze was human-caused and under investigation.
In Bridger-Teton National Forest, no restrictions on campfires are in place at this time. Bridger-Teton officials are anticipating a busy fire season in the weeks and months ahead, Cernicek said.