State Forestry – remain vigilant with recreational fire use this year

Sheep Creek Fire 2016 Courtesy of Wyoming State Forestry Division District Forester Kelly Norris

While the projections for Wyoming’s fire season point to a normal season, the Wyoming State Forestry Division expects a multitude of fires that will threaten lives and property this season.

That’s according to a press release from the WSFD. The forestry division traditionally holds a wildfire briefing that covers a range of topics regarding the upcoming fire season. 

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s briefing  had to be canceled. In lieu of a formal briefing, the WSFD wished to provide a brief overview of the 2020 wildfire season as changes can be expected in light of COVID-19.  

As usual, fires will be aggressively suppressed across the State of Wyoming. The WSFD continues to be able to provide a helicopter and crew available for fire suppression and has added additional aviation capacity in the form of 2 Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs). 

Already, the WSFD’s Helitack has assisted in the suppression of several wildfires as well as the successful evacuation of a family threatened by a fire.

The increased focus on aggressive fire suppression is an additional effort to keep fires small. By ensuring fires stay small, risk is reduced to firefighters and the public from potential COVID-19 spread due to incoming resources, such as firefighters from neighboring counties and states.

Should a wildfire grow large despite aggressive suppression efforts, fire suppression strategy and tactics will reflect social distancing considerations, according to the press release. 

As a result, the number of resources on a wildfire may be limited, incident command posts may restrict public access, and multiple fire camps may be required to distance firefighters and other personnel.

This is done in an attempt to protect firefighters and the public from COVID-19 during fire suppression and represents a change from past operations.

It was with this in mind, the WSFD wanted residents to know that it is important to understand that most wildfires in Wyoming are human caused. The WSFD asks that the public help protect firefighters and their neighbors by utilizing fire responsibility.

It is particularly important to remain vigilant with recreational fire use this year as any new fire may exacerbate the risks to the health and well-being of firefighters and the public in light of COVID-19.

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