Blaze grows on southern Bridger-Teton

August 7, 2017

The first noteworthy wildfire of the year on the Bridger-Teton National Forest burned more than 4 square miles of the Wyoming Range in the first 24 hours after it was first detected.

The Pole Creek Fire, listed Sunday afternoon at 3,169 acres, is burning through lodgepole pine forest about 25 miles northwest of Kemmerer. Wildfire managers list the cause as “undetermined” and have enlisted a Type 3 management team to fight the blaze with three helicopters, two engines and two 20-person attack hand crews. Three more ground crew teams have been ordered to report to the fire scene.

The Wyoming Range is the driest portion of the Bridger-Teton, according to a Teton Interagency Fire gauge called an “energy release component.”

Wildfire fuels — grasses and understory forest litter — in the Wyoming Range are currently as dry and abundant as they were in 2012, the year the 60,000-plus acre Fontenelle Fire burned through much of the summer in the area. The fire danger rating in the Bridger-Teton is rated as “high,” which means fires can start easily and spread quickly.

The fire danger is also listed as high in nearby Grand Teton National Park.

There are many large wildfires actively burning in Idaho and western Montana, though it’s been a slow fire season to date in western Wyoming.

Besides the Pole Creek Fire, the nearest blazes to Jackson Hole are in southeast Idaho, including near Blackfoot and Pocatello.

Since it was discovered Friday evening southeast of American Falls Reservoir, the Powerline Fire has burned “extremely actively” in grass, sage brush and juniper, and was listed Sunday at 30,000 acres.

The Lava Flow Fire is also burning actively in the grasses, brush and lava rock between Idaho Falls and Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was listed at 22,651 acres Sunday.