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Newcastle Field Office
Release Date: 07/19/11
Contacts: Beth Doten    
  Whoopup Fire Information    
  (307) 746-2782    

Whoopup Fire Update No. 3: Multiple Lightning Fires Taxing Firefighters

Nine new fires from lightning strikes yesterday and this morning are taxing local firefighters.

The Whoopup Fire is burning among over a dozen homes in Ferguson Canyon near Newcastle, Wyo., and on the South Dakota/Wyoming border. No homes have burned and firefighters are protecting structures in the area.

Fourteen homes were evacuated last night in the Ferguson Canyon sub-division and two South Dakota resident homes south of Highway 16.

A horse trailer and a utility trailer have been burned and one outbuilding, a shed or barn, was lost.

The fires are believed to be lightning-caused.

The estimated size of the Whoopup fire is 4,335 acres although it is growing and fire behavior is intensifying as temperatures rise and winds increase.

Two new fires located south of the Whoopup fire are not yet staffed and are visible from local highways. The fires are less than one acre but burning actively, incident commanders said.

Another new fire near Surveyor Peak two miles north of Highway 16 is three acres. A heavy air tanker has been ordered to help suppress the fire. Aircraft are being used to stop new fires before they get bigger and to hold fire lines, said Todd Hoover, Hell Canyon duty officer for the Forest Service at Newcastle, Wyo.

A Type II team from the Northern Great Plains will take over command of the Whoopup fire at 6 p.m. local time.

Firefighters continue to pour into Newcastle. Heavy air tankers from Rapid City air tanker base are helping as are helicopters from South dakota and Wyoming. Engines from Colorado and other states are assisting.

Leadership from Weston County, Wyoming, Custer County, South Dakota, the BLM Newcastle Field Office, the U.S. Forest Service, and volunteer departments intend to put the fires out as safely and quickly as possible.

The fires are not controlled although a few small ones are contained.

Special concerns include: high temperature, erratic winds, and flashy grass fuel. Rain last night was not sufficient to stop the fire and new lightning fires will continue to challenge fire resources.

Updates will be sent as more information is obtained.

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Newcastle Field Office   1101 Washington Boulevard      Newcastle, WY 82701-2968  

Last updated: 07-19-2011