With the West ablaze, local firefighters keep leery vigilance

JACKSON, Wyo. — Saturday can’t get here quick enough for wildland firefighters battling local incidents with a wary eye on potential startups now that hunters are hitting the field.

The recently discovered Holmes Cave Fire has the potential to make a run northeast in the direction of a heavily-timbered area. Tactics there include containing the fire within the timbered island where the fire started and keeping it out of the larger timber island located to the northeast where prevailing winds are wanting to push it.

No particular assets are threatened in the remote region lying within the Teton Wilderness, but fire managers are concerned for the potential for fire growth at a time when the fire activity in the western United States has created a high demand for firefighting resources. The nation is currently in Preparedness Level 5 (PL5). That represents the highest level of fire activity and demand for resources.

The Holmes Cave Fire is at 2 acres. It is being fought with the assistance of Local Helicopter 35X, supplying bucket drops. Seven firefighters will remain on the fire to help keep spot fires in check.

Holmes Cave Fire map. Image: Teton Interagency Fire

Yellowstone’s Lone Star Fire continues to creep and spot. The blaze has grown slightly to 3,914 acres. The fire continues to hold heat and the potential for growth remains. Warm temperatures along with low relative humidity could cause the fire to become more active in the next few days.

Forty firefighters are currently assigned to the Lone Star Fire, now under the command of Rob Smolczynski after the previous team timed out.

The fire is one mile from a backcountry cabin, three miles from the Old Faithful complex. Ground crews continue to do what they can to limit growth by reducing fuels in the fire’s path.

Park officials remind visitors all entrances to Yellowstone are open as is the Old Faithful area. The Grand Loop Road between Old Faithful and West Thumb is open but may be closed at any time due to smoke and low visibility.

The Lone Star Fire continues to throw up smoke. This photo taken on September 14. Photo: Inciweb, uncredited

The weekend weather could provide some relief but it comes with a ‘good news, bad news’ scenario.

A fire weather watch is in effect for Friday and Friday night as winds ahead of a cold front could whip flames into a frenzy. Saturday’s weather will have a chilling effect on any active wildfires but it will be a short-lived respite as temps are expected to increase and humidity decrease as next week wears on.

So often in this day and age with increased backcountry users armed with mobile communication, the first line of defense in fighting forest fires is the general population.

Fire danger in the region remains very high; campfires in the backcountry are not allowed. Be extremely cautious with open fires when and where they are allowed, and always ask yourself, “Do I really need this warming fire? Is it worth the risk?”

As always, call (307) 739-3630 to report smoke or a fire.

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