Sheep Fire

The Sheep Fire, the plume from which is pictured, grew to over 90,000 acres within 24 hours of being sparked by lightning near Idaho National Laboratory facilities west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. In Jackson Hole, wildfire managers have raised the fire danger to high.

No major wildfires have ripped through northwest Wyoming yet this summer, but firefighters say the risk of that happening is increasing and that windy afternoons and hot temperatures have dried out the landscape.

In step with those observations, Teton Interagency Fire officials on Tuesday elevated the fire danger to “high” for the first time in 2019. The affected district includes Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Teton and Sublette counties and the northern portion of Lincoln County.

Although fire managers in those areas have been spared major wildfires so far this year, they don’t have to look far to see lands that are ripe for burning. West of Idaho Falls, Idaho, the Sheep Fire ballooned to more than 85,000 acres within 24 hours of being sparked by lightning. All non-essential employees are being evacuated at a half dozen Idaho National Laboratory facilities.

Closer to home, only the diminutive Box Creek Fire is still active, a 2-acre lightning fire that’s being allowed to play its natural role in the Teton Wilderness.

No campfire restrictions are currently in place, but firefighters are encouraging people to take extra care.

“This year there have already been more than 83 abandoned campfires reported in the Teton Interagency Dispatch area,” Teton Interagency Fire officials announced in a news release. “Campers should be prepared with plenty of water and a shovel on hand.”

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 for 7 years. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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