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News Bulletin 3:30 p.m.: Horsethief threat wanes
Date: September 13, 2012
Jackson/Teton County Fire/EMS Chief Willy Watsabaugh lifted the Horsethief Canyon Fire evacuation advisory for east Jackson Thursday evening that he had issued Monday morning.
Watsabaugh made the announcement to a crowd of about 90 people gathered for an evening briefing on the wildfire, estimated at 3,324 acres. Watsabaugh issued the evacuation warning Monday morning, telling residents to be prepared and packed to leave should the fire advance within about a mile of Jackson.
“We’re lifting that order, but people still need to remain vigilant,” Watsabaugh said. “Things can change.”
News Bulletin 3:30 p.m.: Heavy airship still grounded
As of 3 p.m., one of the Horsethief Canyon Fire’s two heavy “type one” helicopters was still not available for use because of a damaged snorkel.
The airships, Erickson Air-Cranes, were both down for repair yesterday at one stage, causing the U.S. Forest Service to dispatch a DC-10 air tanker from the Sheep Herder Hill Fire near Casper. One was flying again Thursday.
Fire managers did receive a third medium-duty “type two” helicopter today, fire spokeswoman Traci Weaver said. Including three smaller “type one” helicopters, that brings the total air fleet to eight machines, she said.
A plan set out this morning was for air operations to concentrate their resources on the southern end of the fire.
News Bulletin: 2:55 p.m. New fire near Afton, smoke in Jackson area
A new forest fire started Wednesday in the Greys River area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest 50 miles south of Jackson, the Forest Service said Thursday afternoon.
The fire is 33 miles from Alpine up the dirt Greys River Road near the Forest Park Campground. Firefighters hope to contain it quickly; it was reported to be 40 acres Thursday.
Meanwhile, firefighters on the Horsethief Canyon wildfire just south of Jackson are urging motorists on South Highway 89 south of Jackson to slow down and turn on headlights. Heavy smoke might obscure the road in the next few days.
People should avoid outdoor activity if the smoke is heavy, fire managers said in a statement. Residents can keep windows and doors closed to keep smoke out.
People with health problems related to smoke should contact their physician, county officials said in a news release.
News Bulletin 1:20 p.m.: Jet replaced ailing helicopters
Firefighters called in one of only two DC-10 air tankers in the country to drop retardant on the ridge above the Cache Creek on Wednesday after two large helicopters were grounded for repairs.
The jet helped hold the fire line until firefighters could get in place, officials said in a statement. Known as a “very large air tanker,” the jet can hold more than 11,000 gallons of retardant and can release it in eight seconds and cover a mile of terrain.
It made two runs over Cache Creek around midday, returning to Casper to reload. It flew back over Jackson and south toward Game Creek later in the day.
One helicopter had mechanical problems, according to the statement. The second had a damaged snorkel — the hose used to draw up water.
News Bulletin 11:45 a.m.: Community fire meeting tonight
Horsethief Canyon Fire managers will host a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Jackson Hole Middle School to keep the community up to date with developments.
Chris Ourada’s Incident Management Team, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and the town and county including Jackson Hole Fire/EMS will be represented to answer questions. The meeting is scheduled to last no longer than an hour.
News Bulletin 10:05 a.m.: Firefighting focus shifts south
Firefighters are shifting their focus on the Horsethief Canyon wildfire to the south, sending crews to Game Creek to evaluate structures there.
The south flank was the most active Wednesday, fire managers said on the inciweb webside, with winds from the north and northwest. They expect winds to be lighter today, but the fire could be active anyway.
Firefighters will rely on planes and helicopters today in their continuing battle. The fire is 2,918 acres and has cost $1.7 million to fight. Four Hundred seventy-seven persons are assigned to the fight.
Firefighters have closed the Elk Refuge Road to pedestrians and bicyclists from east Broadway to the Miller House. Cars and trucks are permitted.
The restrictions are being imposed for safety reasons because of helicopter traffic. Pedestrians are being asked not to loiter along the sidewalk bordering east Broadway and the elk refuge.
The contracted east Jackson evacuation advisory area remains in place. Cache and Game Creek trails, as well as those on Snow King, remain closed, along with some other areas nearby.
All highways and businesses in and around Jackson remain open.