Fire Just Outside Town
Saturday night when we sat down for supper when Becca noticed a large cloud of smoke outside so after supper we went to investigate. We discovered that a fire had broke out somewhere in the Guernsey State Park and had covered between 300-500 acres. At that point the wind was going away from the town so we weren’t personally worried about anything. We came home and as we were getting ready for bed we noticed that the wind had changed so we stepped outside the church and could see an orange glow in the sky. The wind was now blowing towards the town and could easily cross the river.
We packed up the kids into the car and drove to where we could see what was going on. It seemed like the whole town had drove to the river to watch the fire. After watching the fire spread for a while we decided to pack up our things that could not be replaced and prepare for an evacuation. By 1:00am Sunday morning the fire seemed to be under control so we went to bed.
Our church services were down in attendance some and I assume the fire had something to do with that. After church we took a drive to see the extent of the fire. Because the Police were blocking off the roads into the park we couldn’t see to much but on some back roads north of town we could see some trees still smoldering and small fires being put out. A few hours after we had taken a drive the fire had started up again and this time it had crossed the river north of town. The fire was now were we had drove earlier looking at the damage. A very strong wind was blowing from the west and driving the fire east.
The fire departments and military were working very hard to stop the fire before it reached the militaries impact area where there are several live explosives used for training. We watched as helicopters dropped water on the fire and circled around to the lake for more. We were given an notice that it was possible that there would be an evacuation of Guernsey so we left our things packed and ready to go. One of our church members called who lives north of town and informed me that they had been evacuated. Around 10:00pm Sunday night we were told by one of our members, who was out fighting the fire, that the fire was under control but were not planning on unpacking our things until it is out for good.
The whole time the fire was so close our children were oblivious to the situation. They were content to sit and watch a Curious George DVD and go to bed. They felt save and secure in the presence of mom and dad. I fear that to often we find ourselves worried over things that our Heavenly Father has under control.
Lord teach me to rest in your presence
although there be fire all about me.
Here is a copy of a news report from http://www.kgoskerm.com.
GUERNSEY STATE PARK WILDFIRE: PLEASANT VALLEY ROAD CLOSED, AIR TANKERS DROP MORE WATER
11 June 2012
Guernsey, WY - Pleasant Valley Road between Guernsey and Hartville is now closed to all non-emergency traffic as air tanker support will be dumping water in that area, and ground crews continue fire suppression efforts.
A wildfire that started Saturday afternoon has burned over 2500 acres inside Guernsey State Park, with 20 percent containment, but officials are optimistic of firefighting today.
Multiple homes and cabins were threatened along with many structures inside the park as high winds from the west moved the extreme fire east between Guernsey and Hartville.
The fire was officially upgraded from a Type III to a Type II incident, because of the growth of the fire, whereby fire crews connected with the State Forestry Division are able to respond and fight the fire. This change occurred under delegation from Platte County, State Forestry and the Bureau of Land Management.
Jane Carlson is the Platte County Emergency Management Coordinator an she says that crews are very optimistic about containing the fire today.
"It was a very quite night from what dispatch is telling me. I know yesterday, the talk was that if we could make it through the night they [firefighting crews] would have really good conditions to fight the fire today," said Carlson.
Carlson says that the town of Guernsey is safe to return to, but residents of Hartville and along the Pleasant Valley Road area east of the park need to remain on alert and not return if they already self-evacuated, until the clear clear is given.
Hot shot crews from Oregon, Washington, Montana, and South Dakota have re-entered Guernsey state park to tackle what is being called an optimistic day for firefighting crews battling this wildfire that started Saturday afternoon.
Tim Troxel, Squad Leader with the Tatanka Hot Shots from Custer, SD, whose crew also responded to the Cow Camp Fire near Laramie Peak, says that his crew and others worked late into the night last night in the park, battling high winds to help reduce the fire going into today.
"We actually bumped from Division Zulu to Alpha, and did a lot of structure protection around the reservoir, and prepped the dozer line, and that's pretty much where we ended for the night. People that have been doing this for a long time [fighting fires], know that this could be one of those season that you could talk about for a long time. It's going to be a busy summer," said Troxel.
According to the Wyoming State Forestry Division fire information website, a unified command of firefighting crews from Platte and Goshen counties, along with the state forest service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and resources from the Cow Camp Fire were dispatched to the incident.
Gary Schoene is the spokesman for Wyoming State Parks and he says between 500 and 1,000 visitors were evacuated from the park when the blaze erupted Saturday. Police escorted evacuees into the park early Sunday to retrieve their belongings and recreational vehicles. Authorities have opened a shelter for evacuees at the 4-H building in Wheatland as well as the Goshen County Fairgrounds in Torrington.
The Wyoming State Forestry Division reports that air and ground support responded to the incident. Structures, campgrounds, RV’s and power lines were threatened, but no structures have been confirmed destroyed and no injuries or fatalities.
The Platte County Office of Emergency Management said that residents along the Pleasant Valley Road east of the park were evacuated Sunday evening, after reports that the fire jumped the lake due to strong winds from the west.
Acting Wyoming Governor, Senate President Jim Anderson, activated the Wyoming National Guard Sunday evening to assist in fighting the wildfire. Senator Anderson is Acting Governor while Governor Matt Mead is in China and Secretary of State Max Maxfield is outside of Wyoming. Senator Anderson made the decision to call on Guard resources after receiving a request for support from the Wyoming State Forestry Division.
“There are already homes evacuated in this area and given the analysis of the State Forester, Governor Mead’s staff and the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security and I felt it was appropriate to activate the Wyoming National Guard,” Acting Governor Jim Anderson said.
Sunday afternoon three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and their support teams arrived in Guernsey. They were able to start dumping water on the fire this evening. Also in the area are Guard members helping to notify residents of possible evacuations. The 41 Wyoming National Guard troops onsite and working in support of the mission also include 9 firefighters manning two fire trucks.
“We are glad [that] we are able to assist in this fire fighting effort,” said Major General Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s Adjutant General. “The National Guard's role is to assist when called by the governor and we are proud to have this role in protecting Wyoming's residents and its natural assets.”
The fire erupted just days after the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources announced fire bans at both Glendo and Guernsey State Parks effective immediately “due to increasingly dry conditions.” The ban prohibits wood fires at both parks, even in provided fire rings. Propane and charcoal grills with lids are permitted at both parks.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, and the park and roads leading into the park are closed until further notice.
Updated reports will be broadcast as information warrants.