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A fire burning in Medicine Bow National Forest that has forced evacuations in the area expanded to more than 1,300 acres between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The fire, which has not yet been contained, was estimated at 376 acres Wednesday afternoon. The National Forest tweeted Thursday morning that it “grew substantially” since then.

The national forest officially closed a section of the forest Wednesday due to the fire. Violating the closure is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

An official said it will be a “long-duration fire.” Authorities flew an infrared camera above the fire Wednesday night that allowed firefighters to see where it is hottest. That information allows fire personnel to decide where to dispatch resources.

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Authorities believe the fire, located near the Rob Roy Reservoir and the town of Keystone, began Monday afternoon. Its cause remains unknown. Albany County has evacuated the towns of Keystone, Rambler and Lake Creek as well as campsites in the area.

Two Wyoming Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters began assisting in the firefighting effort on Thursday. It’s been roughly five years since Gov. Matt Mead authorized the national guard helicopters to drop water on fires in Wyoming.

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Follow crime and courts reporter Elise Schmelzer on Twitter @eliseschmelzer

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