- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming firefighters were kept busy fighting wildfires this year - in other states - returning help it has received in previous years.

Thanks to favorable weather conditions, the state had no problem handling the few wildfires that were sparked in Wyoming, state Forester Bill Crapser said.

With a mild fire season in Wyoming, county and state firefighters were sent to other states where wildfires overwhelmed local resources.

“Most of our lightning storms had moisture with them. Years that have a really bad fire season it starts early and runs all summer. Where this year we really didn’t dry out until August across most of the state,” he said.

Wyoming saw 31 fire starts this year that required use of state helicopters for quick response, an increase from 27 in 2014, he said.

“But they were able to keep them small,” Crapser said. “Nothing really had big legs underneath it and got going.”

The number of acres burned this summer in Wyoming is still being tabulated, and more wildfires could start this fall. But for the most part, the wildfire season is pretty much over with the change to cooler, less stormy fall weather.

“We kind of lucked out all summer long,” Crapser said.

As many as 60 firefighters from Wyoming and about two dozen fire trucks were sent to other states, he said. Wyoming resources were sent to Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California.

“We only have 52 employees in state forestry statewide and at one point we had 12 of our folks out of state at one time,” he said. “So we had about 25 percent of our whole outfit out of state.”

Crapser noted that roles are reversed when Wyoming has a bad fire season, the last of which occurred in 2012 when nearly 1,100 square miles burned, requiring the help of firefighters from the West Coast and Northwest.

“They were able to help us out those years and we’re able to help them out this year,” he said.


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