Firewise project thins fuels; no cause for alarm

Jan 16, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The activity caught the attention of at least one resident who called law enforcement Wednesday.

County residents shouldn't be too alarmed if they see fires burning this month in Homestead Park outside of Lander.

Fremont County Firewise coordinator Ron Wempen said the blazes are part of a fuel treatment project taking place this year in the subdivision above Sinks Canyon.

A contractor began clearing and burning materials this week and is expected to continue the work through January.

Flames from the project have prompted at least one emergency call Wednesday.

"This project is being conducted to help area owners create defensible space around structures," Wempen said. "(It) will be ongoing throughout next summer with additional dead trees being cut and removed."

Wempen said large slash piles are being burned currently.

"It's dead and diseased lodge pole we're cutting (down and) removing from around those cabins up there," Wempen said. "A lot of it is dead, beetle-killed lodge pole trees."

An outbreak of mountain pine beetle has affected more than 4 million acres in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming since 1996, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Visible flames

This week's fire activity caught the attention of at least one resident who called law enforcement at about 6:50 p.m. Wednesday to report a blaze on the "face of the mountain." Wempen said fog that had covered Lander earlier in the week lifted Wednesday evening to make the flames visible from town.

"The burning at this location will be very noticeable from the Lander area during the night time hours," he said.

Anyone with questions can call the Fremont County Fire Protection District at 857-3030 and ask for Wempen.

Fremont County Firewise, also known as the Fremont County Wildland Fire Management Program, is a cooperative agreement between Fremont County Fire Protection District and Wyoming State Forestry Division.

According to the Fremont County Fire Protection District, Firewise was established in the fall of 2000 to develop a cooperative plan to lessen the likelihood of severe wildland fires in the wildland/urban interface.

The wildland/urban interface is any area where manmade buildings are built close to or within natural terrain and flammable vegetation, where high potential for wildland fires exists.

Fremont County Fire has utilized the Western Wildland Urban Interface Grant Program to provide wildland fire hazard mitigation for residents of Fremont County.The grant provides cost-share monies that are available to homeowners for fuel mitigation and forest health activities.

The Wyoming State Forestry Division provided Fremont County Fire with the grant to cost share these activities.

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