Swinging Bridge Fire

Firefighters put out hot spots Monday afternoon on a ridgetop while containing the Swinging Bridge Fire south of Jackson. The fire, which started Sunday and had burned 102 acres by Monday afternoon, prompted aggressive aerial and ground suppression efforts and the evacuation of nearby subdivisions. Residents were allowed back to their homes by Monday morning. See page 3 for more.

Cooler temperatures and firefighters working through the night combined to knock down the Swinging Bridge Fire within hours of flaring up and sweeping over 102 acres.

Smoke wisped up from the remnants of root systems within the blackened fire scar Monday, but open flames were nowhere to be seen on the once sagebrush-studded hillsides about 8 miles south of Jackson.

“All of our control lines held today,” Dave Wilkins, the fire’s incident commander, said atop the Game Creek bench Monday afternoon. “The crews have been really successful utilizing hose lays, engines and [water] tenders.”

Much of the work that remained was “mopping up” — dousing smoldering vegetation that remained, one smoke at a time. The percentage of fire considered contained had not been declared by late Monday, but prospects were good that most of the perimeter would hold.

Hundreds of residents of the Game, Squaw and Porcupine creek subdivisions received word at 9 a.m. Monday morning that they could return home after being displaced for the night. Most residents returned to power, following a period when Lower Valley Energy cut electricity to diminish the hazard of wildfire burning through areas with live power lines.

“Firefighters, law enforcement, and utility crews thank everyone who complied with the evacuation order so that they could focus on quickly containing the fire and repairing infrastructure,” Teton County Emergency Management sent out in a notice.

Although the evacuation was lifted, Henry’s Road between Swinging Bridge and Porcupine Creek stayed closed at least into Monday evening to allow crews space to work what remained of the still-active fire.

At the peak of the firefight late Sunday, a dozen engines, fifty-plus firefighters and five aircraft attacked the Swinging Bridge Fire. The cause remained under investigation as of Monday evening.

See Wednesday’s Jackson Hole News&Guide for a detailed story on the response to the Swinging Bridge Fire, Jackson Hole’s largest wildfire yet in 2020.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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