It was an active fire season for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) High Desert District (HDD), Wyoming State Forestry, and Albany, Carbon, Laramie, Lincoln, Sweetwater, Sublette and Uinta counties with a total of 147 wildfires. Sixty-four fires burned 39,151 acres of BLM land while 83 fires burned 12,298 acres of private and State of Wyoming lands. A typical fire season has 120 fires with 21,446 acres burned.
Firefighters saw plenty of action in south and west Wyoming, often in rugged, steep terrain with mixed fuels. The 12,645 acre Ferris Fire northeast of Rawlins, Wyo., was the largest in the district. The 12,392 acres of BLM land burned by the 64,220 acre Fontenelle Fire west of Big Piney, Wyo., ran a close second.
Within the 21 million acres covered by the HDD, low moisture, dry fuels and high temperatures extended wildfire activity well into the fall after an early start with the 323 acre Creston Fire west of Rawlins on May 21. Cooler temperatures as well as shorter days, rain and snow brought the 2012 season to a close with the Fontenelle Fire called out on October 25.
The BLM worked closely with the U.S. Forest Service, State of Wyoming, Wyoming State Forestry Department, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners to contain fires and minimize damage.
HDD Fire Management Officer Frank Keeler states, “We were expecting a difficult fire year; however, with extensive planning, the help of our partners and the vigilance of the public, we were able to quickly attack and control most fires which made a tremendous difference over the extended length of the season.” He adds, “Safety is our number one priority and we were able to fight these fires with no major injuries. We had a successful year.”