CHEYENNE — A wildfire in northern Albany County has grown further in size, drawing additional firefighting personnel, although it continues to be about one-fifth contained.
The Sugarloaf Fire near Laramie Peak has expanded to close to 700 acres in size, a few hundred acres larger than it was in recent days.
The growth is due to firefighting operations, as opposed to the blaze expanding on its own, Tim Jones, a spokesperson for the operation, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle Tuesday.
There have been "firing operations (to) introduce lower intensity fire under specific conditions," according to a Tuesday announcement.
Firefighters, either by hand on the ground, by using manned helicopters or by using remote-controlled drones, intentionally light fires to prevent even bigger blazes. Such "low intensity fire is less damaging to the land and allows firefighters to strengthen containment along the perimeter by reducing the amount of vegetation available to burn," according to the latest announcement.
The number of personnel assigned to the blaze has increased to just over 450. This is all as of Tuesday and is according to the Inciweb fire tracking website established for this particular conflagration.
Another fire, to the east in Nebraska, contributed to smoke and haze in the Cheyenne area on Sunday, a National Weather Service official had told the WTE. By Sunday night and into Monday, the smoke and haze, as predicted, appeared to have significantly lessened in southeast Wyoming.
"Smoke from other fires in the area combined with smoke from western states contributed to hazy conditions for much of Wyoming," noted the Sugarloaf Fire's latest update on Tuesday. Jones, a public information officer for the Sugarloaf fire, noted that this blaze was not creating much additional smoke or haze within Wyoming outside of the area of the fire itself.
The inferno has been burning in the Medicine Bow National Forest. It is thought to be caused by human activity and was first reported over a week ago.
On Monday, "fire activity was moderate with primarily backing, creeping and smoldering fire," said Tuesday's update on Sugarloaf. "Tuesday a cold front is predicted with increased winds, higher relative humidity, increased chance of rain, and slightly cooler temperatures. Fire activity for today is expected to be creeping and smoldering with wind driven surface fire and a potential for spotting."
Containment of the Sugarloaf Fire remains at 19%.
Small amounts of localized rain from Sunday through Tuesday have been helping the situation, according to Jones.
"At this point, we have not seen any unexpected growth of the fire" in recent days, Jones noted by phone. "It has not moved from where the fire is, other than where we have done the firing operations."
People in the area of Bear Creek Road between the Garrett intersection and Friend Park were previously ordered to evacuate immediately, and that restriction remained as of Tuesday.
A pre-evacuation notice continues for Friend Park, and for Fetterman Road to Garrett Ranch. People in these areas have been advised to gather their belongings, families and pets and be prepared to evacuate if necessary.
“It's a very large geographic area with very few homes," Jones said of Fetterman Road and of the evacuation zone generally.
Authorities say the fire started near Forest Road 637 and the Cow Creek Trailhead.
Those who have any information regarding who might have sparked it are asked to call a Forest Service law enforcement tip line at 303-275-5266.
The latest updates on the fire are online at inciweb.nwcg.gov.
Updates also are available on the local U.S. Forest Service and Albany County Emergency Management Facebook pages.
This story was posted on August 2, 2022 and updated with additional information about the fire, current to Tuesday afternoon.