CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — More dry, breezy and warm weather kept two big wildfires in Wyoming and Colorado growing Tuesday and put firefighters in a battle to save cabins.
Firefighters didn’t expect much relief until at least this weekend, when cooler weather is forecast in the densely forested mountain country.
The Mullen Fire about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west of Cheyenne burned toward Fox Park and Miller Lake, two small enclaves of mainly recreational cabins where firefighters spent a week setting up sprinklers and clearing flammable items away from buildings.
“That’s a lot of time for firefighters like these to really be in there,” fire information officer John Peterson said Tuesday. “We’ve been setting the stage for this battle to occur and it’s happening now.”
The fire had been spreading southward into Colorado but Tuesday’s winds pushed flames northwest toward Centennial, Wyoming, a town of 270 people on the edge of Medicine Bow National Forest.
Centennial wasn’t in imminent danger. Though the fire over the past day had burned about 15 square miles (40 square kilometers), reaching a total of almost 240 square miles (620 square kilometers), it was still at least 5 miles (8 kilometers) from the community.
Over 100 cabins and other structures had burned to date in the Mullen Fire and Cameron Peak Fire, which on Tuesday grew to nearly 200 square miles (520 square kilometers) about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Fort Collins, Colorado.
The fires were about 25 miles (40 kilometers) apart, with mostly uninhabited, rugged terrain in between. Firefighters didn’t expect the fires to merge but evacuation orders were in place throughout the area.
The Cameron Peak Fire began in mid-August and the Mullen Fire in mid-September.
The fires were unusually active for October, when cold weather and snow usually brings fire season in the Rocky Mountain high country to an end.