CODY — Rising humidity and scattered rain helped keep the Norton Point fire from spreading Monday while cooler temperatures came as a relief to firefighters.
Sparked by lightning on July 22, the fire grew by more than 2,700 acres on Saturday when it entered the mouth of Caldwell Basin in the Washakie Wilderness.
Now listed at 13,700 acres — about 21 square miles — the blaze has seen little growth since a cold front moved in Sunday, delivering cooler temperatures and rising humidity.
“We’ve received a little rain today,” said Carl Jungck, a fire information officer with the Shoshone National Forest. “It’s going to slow the growth. It’ll slow the smoke for a while, too.”
Jungck said fire officials were calling the weather a season-changing event, not quite a season-ending event as generally takes place in September. Once the weather moves off, he said, officials expect the fire activity to pick back up.
“This weather will slow it down, but in a couple more days or a week, it may line back up with the winds and begin moving again,” Jungck said. “Right now, there’s some rain on it.”
Fire managers continued to shuffle resources over the weekend, bringing in two additional firefighting crews. They also released a public information officer and a medium-lift helicopter, which spent much of last week conducting bucket drops to reinforce the fire’s southern boundary.
The fire has cost roughly $575,000 to fight so far. Fire managers say that’s a fraction of what a full-suppression fire would cost. In comparison, the Los Alamos fire has cost $48 million to fight.
“We did release our medium helicopter and an information person,” Jungck said. “The objective is to keep the fire to a minimum cost while ensuring firefighter safety. So every chance we get, we’ll release someone or a resource if we can to keep the costs down.”
Two additional crews arrived at the fire over the weekend, bringing to 136 the number of firefighters working the blaze. They’ll join two existing fire crews and a Wyoming Hotshot crew in carving line along the fire’s southern flank and removing brush and other fuels in the area.
“The fire may or may not ever reach most of the fire line they are preparing but it’s available as a contingency,” Jungck said. “Much of the planned fire line is open meadows or existing trails.”