Fire officials reported 70 percent containment on the Sheep Herder Hill Fire on Thursday night, saying the day’s efforts to strengthen the Casper Mountain wildfire’s northwest boundary were successful.
The eight-acre Elkhorn Fire was completely controlled by Thursday night.
The winds worked in firefighters’ favor Thursday, blowing any hot, loose embers back toward the already-burning areas rather than forward into unburned areas. Crews didn't light any more controlled burns, or burnouts, because Wednesday’s small, intentionally-lit fires so effectively cleansed a line of dry fuels from the northwest border of the blaze.
Friday’s efforts will focus on “mopping up” hot spots, creating buffer zones along existing fire lines and continuing to protect threatened structures. Fire officials will also be on the lookout for flare-ups, which are likely to spark considering the weekend’s forecast for hot, dry conditions.
“If there’s any unburned fuel close to a hotspot, it’s going to flare up given the conditions,” fire behavior analyst Glen Lewis said. “That’s definitely what they’ve been hitting hard today, to be prepared for those conditions coming up.”
Incident Management Meteorologist Rick Davis said the National Weather Service has issued a fire watch for Saturday, meaning predicted conditions look right for a red flag warning. Friday’s high temperature will reach 84 degrees, followed by 85 on Saturday.
Incident Commander Todd Pechota said crews would continue to monitor the newly extinguished Elkhorn Fire by air, but as of Thursday afternoon no heat or smoke from the fire was visible to officials.
The Sheep Herder Hill Fire erupted Sunday afternoon. Fire officials are still investigating the cause. The Elkhorn Fire is believed to have been ignited by lightning from a Monday afternoon thunderstorm.