(Fremont County, Wyo.) - Nearly 30 Fremont County firefighters have been working on the Lava Mountain Fire since July 16. Ron Wempen, Division Chief and Firewise Coordinator for the Fremont County Fire Protection District, spoke with County 10 today to tell us about the local efforts.
The crew includes about 30 volunteer firefighters from all corners of Fremont County. Most of the firefighters who had been on the line for two consecutive weeks came home for a day off, and returned to Dubois this morning. Wempen was part of this crew and returned home on Saturday, July 30.
The Fremont County firefighters were in charge of structural protection. Wempen explained the US Forest Service does not include structural firefighting, so the Fremont County firefighters were assigned to structural protection duties because they are well trained and have the capacity to fight both wildland and structural fires.
Fire approaches the MacKenzie Ranch
Lincoln Chute, a structure protection division supervisor with the Western Montana Type 2 Incident Management team who was on the Lava Mountain Fire during its first week told Wempen: “The county engines were by far the best trained and best firefighters I have had on an out-of-area fire." To date zero structures have been lost.
"I think it speaks volumes of our local volunteer firefighter team to work on something of this scale and have our crews be as successful as they have been," Wempen told County 10. "And to have others (like Mr. Chute) notice our firefighter's hard work and dedication exemplifies the caliber of our volunteer firefighters that we have here locally. They are very well trained and dedicated to their communities."
Wempen highlighted both the Fremont County Wildland Fire Management Program (Firewise) and the Forest Service's Fuel Treatment Project as having a large positive impact on the protection of structures.
County crews assemble sprinkler systems and attack lines at the Triangle C Ranch
"These guys have done and continue to do a great job," Wempen said. "Everything really came together and the crews worked well as a team." Wempen said Fremont County firefighters will be working on the Lava Mountain Fire for at least the next two weeks. Their emphasis will be shifting to the wildland fire fight, rather than protection of structures.
Currently the expected date of containment is September 1, 2016.
County firefighter Paul Morency installs sprinkler lines
Krissy Kappus, and Dalton Sanders working near county engines at the Triangle C Ranch
Ora Little and Jacob Ramey wet down an area near structures as fire approaches
All photos h/t Ron Wempen. Feature photo: Dusty Citron as the crews prepare for fire at the MacKenzie Ranch / Pitchengine Communities
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