|Firefighters continue to battle the Oil Creek fire|
|Thursday, 05 July 2012 16:00|
Up until now, firefighters had been flanking the fire in an attempt to steer the fire away from populated areas. But beginning Wednesday night, firefighters saw the opportunity to get out ahead of the fire. And Thursday, fire managers poured every spare truck and every spare firefighter onto a gravel road northwest of Four Corners, Wyoming with the intention of confronting the fire head-on while the winds were fairly light and the temperatures fairly mild. Firefighters say Skull Creek Road offers access to the north front of the fire for firefighters and their equipment, and it forms a sort of natural firebreak standing in the way of the northward course of the fire.
Chuck Turley says, "Wednesday night our operations folks got that opportunity. And using Skull Creek Road as a containment line were able to get across the head of the fire. Now we're tightening up the lines."
And the process of tightening up the lines meant reinforcing the structure protection in the homes along Skull Creek Road with bulldozed lines, and back burning the ditches and open fields wherever possible to make the fire break as wide as possible. Meanwhile the choppers delivered a little "concentrated precipitation," as firefighters like to say, on flare-ups on a ridge along the eastern flank of the fire, where rough country made it impossible to insert firefighters. Firefighters say all of these operations Thursday have been successful, and the more time they can buy, the lesser the chances of a major flare-up.
Says, "It has not crossed Skull Creek Road, so with the weather conditions it's been holding there for the last day or so, so it looks good right now, no guarantees though."
Meanwhile along Highway 16, in Osage, over 200 people had been evacuated as the fire advanced westward. Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard says most of the people evacuated had been staying with friends or relatives. Now that the fire danger on the southwestern flank has subsided, those evacuees have been allowed to return to their homes; with the proviso that they be ready to get out again if it's necessary.
Sheriff Bryan Colvard says, "Having their bags packed.....and that kind of thing."
The only reservation that firefighters have about their prospects on the fire is a line of thunderstorms that are due to pass through the area Thursday evening. What worries firefighters is that the storms may produce erratic winds but little rain. So in spite of all the progress, firefighters aren't ready to declare victory just yet. This fire after all, in the past five days, has burned from Newcastle half the way to Sundance.
Al Van Zee