- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The latest on a destructive wildfire burning in Wyoming (all times local):

4 p.m.

Authorities plan to lift an evacuation order for an area north of Casper where a wildfire has been burning and begin letting people back in their homes starting at 5 p.m.

Natrona County Fire Marshall Bob Fawcett says more than 1,300 people evacuated the area a few miles north of Casper. He expects quite a few cars to line up as people head back home.

He says firefighters made significant progress and the fire didn’t spread Tuesday.

Winds aren’t as strong as they’ve been over the past couple days and containment of the almost 16-square-mile fire is steady at 50 percent.

Firefighters say the Cole Creek Fire has destroyed 13 homes and several residential outbuildings.

State Forester Bill Crapser says he’s optimistic firefighters will be able to wind down efforts starting Wednesday.


10 a.m.

Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser blames unseasonably dry weather with temperatures in the 70s and 80s for a destructive wildfire just outside Casper, which is practically unheard of at this time of year in the Cowboy State.

Rainy weather helped the Rocky Mountain avoid big wildfires this spring and summer.

By fall, usually Wyoming has seen freezing temperatures and possibly even a significant snowfall.

But, warmer temperatures have been drying out the prairie since early September.

The National Weather Service warns of high fire danger across much of central and southern Wyoming. Still, Crapser says longer nights with temperatures dipping into the 30s and 40s should help firefighters working to contain the flames.


9:20 a.m.

Firefighters took advantage of calmer winds and cool nighttime temperatures to regain ground on a grass fire that has burned at least a dozen homes in central Wyoming.

Crews with bulldozers worked overnight to block the fire along its northern flank. Containment is back up to 50 percent. Lighter winds compared to the past couple days should help.

State Forester Bill Crapser said Tuesday that between 15 and 20 structures are lost to the fire that has burned some 15 square miles of rolling prairie 3 miles north of Casper. The fire also burned several sheds and other residential outbuildings.

Hundreds of residents are evacuated from the rural area.

The fire began Saturday at a compost pile at the Casper Regional Landfill. Strong winds blew the fire away from the landfill Sunday and fanned the flames again Monday afternoon.


8:40 a.m.

The Red Cross is asking people to donate yard tools to help victims of the wildfire near Evansville, Wyoming.

Red Cross spokeswoman Pat Kondas says those who have lost their homes will need rakes, shovels and leather gloves to help search for any personal belongings left in the fire debris.

An evacuation order remains in effect after the fire flared up again Monday afternoon. Kondas tells KTWO Radio (https://bit.ly/1R97xoS) people are asking when they can get back to their homes.

Other help offered by the Red Cross includes vouchers to stay at motels, coupons for clothing and food, help getting medicine and medical devices, and counseling.

A temporary shelter for fire victims has been set up at Casper College.


6:30 a.m.

At least 12 families have lost their homes because of a wind-driven grass fire that has burned nearly 16 square miles in central Wyoming.

The fire started Saturday in a composting area at a regional landfill near Casper. Winds gusting up to 50 mph on Sunday pushed the blaze to the east, forcing evacuations in the Evansville area.

Natrona County Fire Marshal Bob Fawcett says no one was injured. Homeowner Daniel Clark tells the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1K6sR9d) that along with his house and barn he lost six dogs, five cats, two horses, a cow and his wife’s wedding ring. He was able to rescue two dogs and a horse before smoke forced him out of the area.

The Wyoming State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire.

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