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Wyoming wildfire prompts evacuations, nears water supply

September 20, 2020 GMT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A rapidly growing wildfire in southeastern Wyoming was closing in on a reservoir that’s a major source of water for Cheyenne.

Firefighters on Saturday ordered campers, hunters and anybody else still around to leave an over 300-square-mile (780-square-kilometer) area of Medicine Bow National Forest between Centennial and Ryan Park following rapid growth of the fire that began in a wilderness area.

Firefighters themselves had to pull back from the quickly advancing flames, which they estimated burned over 21 square miles (56 square kilometers). Plenty of forest fuel and few natural barriers stood in the fire’s path.

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The fire was spreading toward Rob Roy Reservoir, which is part of a system of reservoirs and pipelines that supply water to Wyoming’s capital city, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

The fire had burned within 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of Rob Roy, according to a firefighter map.

The water system remained safe and able to filter out ash and other burned material that flows through streams and reservoirs after wildfires, said Clint Bassett, water treatment manager for the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities.

First reported in the Savage Run Wilderness on Thursday, the fire had spread eastward into the North Platte Wilderness and other parts of the forest.