Fish Wildfire burns at 0% containment near Sundance, Wyoming

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Sunday
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:09 PM MDT
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SUNDANCE, W.Y. (KEVN) - Early Sunday afternoon the Fish Wildfire first began to burn in Crook County, Wyoming.

Crews were out until 2 AM battling the flames, but come Monday morning and the fire was sitting at 0% contained.

While still under investigation, officials say the fire was human caused and started on private land under state jurisdiction before spreading further into the Black Hills.

“It went up into the timber and started moving fairly well early on,” explained Chris Zoller with the Fish Wildfire operations. He added that the U.S. Forest Service and Crook County did an excellent job at joining forces for the initial attack.

However, the location poses a challenge.

“We have some pretty rough terrain behind us. Pretty inaccessible,” explained Zoller.

Sunday, air crews dropped fire retardant onto the flames but Monday they switched gears to what Zoller calls “air attack.”

“Basically, our eyes in the skies. He’s up there cutting circles in the sky, watching the behavior, talking to the forces on the ground and if he starts to see something, he’s going to be our first line of defense seeing that and being able to tell us where we can react to that,” said Zoller.

Zoller explained the fire’s lack of containment comes from the amount of unburned fuel between the fire line and the containment lines.

Crews are using a burnout method to get rid of that fuel.

“We want to bring the fire down to the firefighters’ level where they’re safe to operate on and where we can get the most bang for our buck in getting this taken care of with the limited amount of people that are out here on the fire,” said Zoller.

This will help contain the fire and focus on protecting the values at risk.

“So, we got structures in and around the fire and then up north here,” explained Zoller as he pointed out on a briefing map areas where structures are threatened.

According to Zoller, roughly 20 people have been evacuated from their homes east of Highway 585 and north of the fire near the Fish Canyon area.

So far, the burnout method has been successful in protecting those structures.

“They’re not out of the woods by any means yet, but it’s defiantly starting to look a little better for those folks there,” said Zoller.

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