Squirrel Creek Fire Reaches 7000 Acres
Albany County Sheriff Dave O'Malley has confirmed that a wildfire that is believed to have started in the Squirrel Creek drainage on Saturday has reached a burn area of 7000 acres and has consumed some structures. The number of type of structures is unknown at this time. Sheriff O'Malley says that damage assessment is pending and will commence when it is safe to do so.
Evacuation of the Woods Landing area, nearly 30 miles southwest of Laramie, began on Sunday. The Albany County Sheriff's Office has issued evacuation notices for all residents along the Fox Creek Road and from Jelm Mountain on the south, north along Sheep Mountain and all the way to Highway 130. This includes the west side of Highway 230, the community of Woods Landing and Jelm, as well as Sheep Mountain, up to Lake Hattie. Pre-evacuation notices remain in effect for residents of Fox Park and Albany. Multiple Code Red messages have been sent to residents of these areas.
Sheriff O'Malley went on to say that fire officials are seeing both the Squirrel Creek and Arapaho fires behave in ways they've never encountered before. "The moisture level is low enough that green grass burns like dry grass." O'Malley also said that firefighters saw the Squirrel Creek Fire move as much as five miles in one hour.
Emergency officials said, at a press conference Monday, that an estimated 300-400 people have been evacuated from the area. As far as the Sheriff's Office knows, no one is unaccounted for. InciWeb lists 55 personnel as assisting in fire fighting efforts, along with air support.
The American Red Cross has set up a shelter in Laramie where it is said that seven people are currently staying. David Block, Regional Chapter Executive for the American Red Cross, says that other evacuees are believed to be staying with friends and family or in area hotels. Block then stated that the Red Cross is prepared and ready to expand if needed.
The Albany County Fairgrounds and Snowy Range Vet clinic have set up housing for domestic animals including pets and horses. As to livestock in the evacuation area, Sheriff O'Malley says that deputies have opened gates for livestock to escape hazardous areas.
David Block also says that donations at this time are appreciated, but the Red Cross can make best use of monetary donations through the Red Cross website.
No areas in Laramie are currently threatened.