JACKSON, WY – It’s official. Investigators have confirmed the cause of the Saddle Butte fire as a bundle of rogue balloons.
Teton County called it an “unusual accident” in a press release this evening.
Several eyewitnesses told Buckrail they had seen the balloons hit the power lines and spark. Investigators confirmed those accounts. Representatives from the Jackson Police Department, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS, and Bridger-Teton National Forest conducted interviews, collected witness statements, and performed on-site investigations. It was determined that Mylar balloons got tangled in power lines and caused an electric arc.
Flaming materials then fell to the ground and ignited dried grass below the power lines. They had just the right weather to spread quickly: strong winds, heat, and steep slopes allowed flames to shoot up the butte.
As of Monday evening, the fire is roughly 50-60% contained.
“Ground crews and air resources made good progress today,” said Incident Commander Dave Wilkins. “We were encouraged to see that fire containment lines held throughout the day with strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures.”
Residents in the Saddle Butte Subdivision remain evacuated overnight as crews continue to monitor the fire. Approximately 100 firefighters from local and surrounding agencies are assisting and will remain on the scene through the day on Tuesday.
A partial fire restriction remains in place in Teton County.
7875 N GRANITE RIDGE RD Teton Village
8580 CREEK CROSSING LP Jackson
000 BLM SUBDIVISION ROAD Pinedale
8840 TIMBER LN Jackson
3070 N WHITE PINE LANE Jackson
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