Saturday was one of those almost but not quite days for the Campbell County boys soccer team. Top-ranked and consensus favorite to win the Class 4A state soccer tournament, the Camels fell just …
CHEYENNE — Firefighters used a helicopter to rescue five California men from a fishing camp at a remote Wyoming mountain lake after a wildfire threatened their only way out.
“Everything went smooth and by the numbers,” Don Mitchell, helicopter crew supervisor, said Wednesday.
Officials did not have the men’s names but said they were from the San Diego area and on an annual fishing trip.
The helicopter evacuation of the outfitter camp occurred Tuesday after the Alpine Lake Fire made a significant run in the Shoshone National Forest, fire spokesman Karl Brauneis said.
The fire has burned about 1,300 acres.
The lake is in an extremely rugged area of the Wind River Range on the Wind River Indian Reservation in west-central Wyoming. There are no homes in the area.
“That’s some of the most rugged country in the world to get in there,” Brauneis said. “At times there’s been strings of horses lost there. So it’s kind of dicey to begin with, and then you add a forest fire in there.”
Mitchell said the men arrived at the outfitter camp Friday and planned to stay through this week.
“Unfortunately, the fire got going, and they felt they weren’t safe where they were at,” he said.
Officials decided to retrieve the men by helicopter when the fire threatened to overrun the only trail that accesses the camp, Brauneis said. Firefighters knew about the men at the camp because they had to obtain permits to fish at the lake.
It took three trips by the high-performance helicopter, normally used to drop buckets of water on fires, to get the men and their gear out, Mitchell said.
He said the men decided to use what was left of their trip to drive to the Yellowstone National Park area.
Despite their fishing trip being cut short, Brauneis said the men likely witnessed some spectacular fire behavior.
“You get to catch fish at the lake and watch some pretty good fire behavior making runs — I mean that’s priceless. That’s a priceless trip there. People just don’t get to see that,” he said.
Firefighters have been unable to suppress the Alpine Lake Fire so far because it’s too dangerous to put crews in such a rugged area, Brauneis said.
Elsewhere in Wyoming, firefighters have gained 95 percent containment on a 6,500-acre fire in Converse County.