The fire in Jackson Hole Wyoming is being contained, and firefighters say their “burnout” is going as planned. The controlled burning of vegetation around the wildfire is a tactic used to destroy what could be a great amount of potential fuel.
It started around 3 p.m. this past Saturday and has been blazing from Little Horsethief Canyon through the mountains south and east of Jackson Hole. So far the fire has burned over four square miles of forest near Snow King Resort, a popular ski spot.
It was announced earlier this week that 2012 was the third hottest summer on record. That fact along with the near absence of snowfall last winter has paved a direct path for wild fires throughout the Tahoe and the Rocky Mountain West. Fires started in Colorado and New Mexico at the beginning of the season, and according to NOAA, the current victim, Wyoming, had experienced a record dry spell this year.
The weather has been surprisingly helpful to quiet the flames despite earlier predictions of high winds and lightning. No evacuations have been put in place but residents have been told to be prepared if things take a turn for the worst.
The fire has been ruled human caused. According to Teton County, attorney Steve Weichman will be working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on developing a potential prosecution case. “Nothing has been formally submitted to my office for consideration,” said Weichman.
There is a lead to the person who caused the fire however; 76-year-old James Anderson III is “distraught” over the very high possibility that the fire had started in a metal barrel his own backyard. His sons Jay and Jason Anderson released a statement about the issue, part of which read, “We ask this community for its understanding, patience and prayers as we endure this tragedy as privately as we are able.”
John Crook, a resident of Little Horsethief called authorities at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday as he saw evidence of a fire burning on the property of a house down the street. “I went outside and looked, and I saw black smoke coming from behind that far north house,” Crook said.
But what does this mean for the ski season in Jackson Hole? Well it could mean fewer trees blocking runs and the promotion of clouds to produce snowfall. In 2007 the Castle Rock Fire created access to new terrain on the backside of Bald Mountain. Positive outcomes can emerge from problems such as this. The important thing is that the fire stays contained and no lives are threatened.