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April 30, 2013 7:58 am

Fire burns 1,528 acres near Lovell

Written by Gib Mathers

A fire roughly northeast of Lovell had burned 1,528 acres as of Monday morning, but firefighters on the scene were getting it under control.

The fire was outside Lovell near the causeway on U.S. Highway 14-A, on the eastern edge of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, said Chuck Russell. Russell is fire management officer for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Wind River/Big Horn Basin district.

The fire was burning grass, Russian olive, salt cedar and cottonwood trees in the riparian area of the Shoshone River. From the south side of the fire, it jumped the river. “We just got it stopped inside the park service,” Russell said. 

The fire started at noon Saturday, probably the result of a controlled burn that got out of control, but officials had not confirmed that as of Monday.

“It’s still under investigation,” Russell said.

Structures, mostly Wyoming Game and Fish Department buildings at the Yellowtail Wildlife Habitat Area, were protected by the Lovell Volunteer Fire Department, Russell said.

Most of the fire burned from noon until midnight Saturday. One helicopter flew reconnaissance Sunday, Russell said.

On Sunday, fire lines were complete on the east and west sides of the fire.

On Monday, there were 17 personnel and three engines from the Bureau of Land Management, one National Park Service engine, one U.S. Forest Service engine and Lovell firefighters available if needed.

Russell said the fire would be contained by Monday evening if the fire or embers smoldering inside cottonwood tree trunks didn’t jump the lines. He predicted the number of personnel and engines would be reduced by today (Tuesday).

The bureau, Forest Service, Lovell firefighters, Game and Fish and area farmers worked in concert to control the blaze. It was a fine example of everyone cooperating to achieve a common goal, Russell said.

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