Skull Lake Fire

The 0.1-acre Skull Lake Fire, pictured, is being allowed to burn in the Bridger Wilderness in the southern Wind River Range, with “very minimal growth” expected.

A tiny fire is smoldering in the southern reaches of the Wind River Range, making for the second active wildfire in the Bridger-Teton National Forest right now.

The national forest received a tip from hikers about the blaze Wednesday and sent in a helicopter to size up what’s been dubbed the Skull Lake Fire. Firefighters aboard the airship reported back that the fire was confined to a single tree and the duff just beneath, where flames creeped and smoldered.

Given its location on rocky, remote terrain, the Skull Lake Fire’s potential for growth is minimal. The forest ran a model based on its location, weather forecast and the fuels in the area, and the prognosis was that “very minimal growth” was expected over the next two weeks, Pinedale District Ranger Rob Hoelscher said.

“It’s really close to the tree line,” Hoelscher said. “There are some available fuels, but it’s pretty green.”

The forest’s plan is to periodically check in to monitor activity on the blaze, which burns within the Bridger Wilderness about a half-mile south of Skull Lake on the east side of Washakie Creek. There are no plans to suppress the fire, classified for now at just a tenth of an acre. If it creeps all the way to a “management action point,” a couple of firefighters will begin babysitting the blaze on the ground, Hoelscher said.

The other active wildfire in the Bridger-Teton right now is the 2-acre Box Creek Fire, which is about 2 1/2 miles north of the developed part of the Buffalo Valley in the Teton Wilderness.

“We’re still managing Box Creek, but we have not seen any smoke on it for several days,” Bridger-Teton wildfire specialist Andy Norman said.

There’s a chance that it’s out, he said, though that status had not been confirmed at press time.

The fire danger in Teton Interagency Fire’s district right now is “high,” which is the typical classification for the beginning of August, Norman said.

The Wildlife Museum Fire, which burned 89 acres on East Gros Ventre Butte last weekend, is evidence that the landscape is capable of letting rip when the right conditions align.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or

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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