Just under 300 firefighters are now battling the Squirrel Creek fire, and officials say up to a thousand more could arrive. The wildfire, just 30 miles south-west of Laramie, has burned just under 7,000 acres and has been ranked the number three priority fire in the country.
Rocky Opliger is incident commander for the fire. He says that prioritization allows firefighters to compete nationally for much needed resources.
“I don’t want to see it to go number one,” says Opliger. “Right now we’re in a good position to get the resources we need, but the fire’s going to dictate what we can do and if we get in a situation where we affect more residents, yes we could become a higher priority: either one or two.”
Opliger says the next 24 hours will be critical to firefighting efforts with significant winds expected in the area. It’s not clear how many people have been evacuated, as ranches east of sheep mountain, south of Highway 130 and north of Highway 230 continue to be evacuated this afternoon.
Opliger says officials have begun discussing calling in the National Guard to help block road to the area, and to provide safety for the public and firefighters. Opliger urges residents to be patient as they continue working to contain the blaze.