By Jonathan Make Wyoming Tribune Eagle

The Sugarloaf fire near Laramie Peak was first reported last week. Estimates say it has so far burned more than 800 acres. Courtesy Photo/U.S. Forest Service

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, has introduced a new piece of federal legislation that its congressional backers contend will help with the allocation of firefighting aircraft.

Separately, a wildfire continues to burn north of Laramie in Albany County. A U.S. Forest Service official told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on Wednesday operations there were proceeding relatively smoothly and the fire may shrink in size in the coming days.

Along with Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, Barrasso unveiled the Modernizing Aerial Fire Fighting Support (MAFFS) for the National Guard Act, Barrasso’s office announced Wednesday.

The bill, if it passes both chambers of Congress and is signed into law by President Joe Biden, would require the U.S. Air Force to include the MAFFS mission “as part of the criteria for allocating the C-130J aircraft,” according to a news release. “This criteria change would make it more likely for the Air National Guard in Wyoming and Nevada, which have MAFFS missions, to be selected by the Air Force to upgrade their aging C-130H fleets with more capable C-130Js.”

The C-130Js “will have a substantial impact on readiness and firefighting capabilities in Wyoming, Nevada, and other states across the West facing the risks of constant wildfires,” according to the statement.

At the Sugarloaf Fire, such aircraft are not needed and are not being used, according to a spokesperson for the incident.

“With the ongoing threat of wildfires across the Rocky Mountain West, having access to C-130J aircraft in Wyoming is more critical than ever,” said Barrasso in his news release. “The C-130J air tanker is one of the best tools we have to quickly and efficiently suppress wildfires.

“By expanding access to this vital air tanker, we ensure Wyoming and other western states have every advantage possible when fighting wildfires.”

In Nevada, Rosen said the law would make it easier for the Nevada Air National Guard to get the upgraded firefighting aircraft.

Sugarloaf Fire
Meanwhile, the Sugarloaf Fire continues to burn north of Laramie in Albany County within the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Its size was estimated Wednesday at 839 acres, an increase from just about a day ago, with containment remaining at 19%. There are still more than 400 personnel working to combat the blaze. This is all according to a federal-government webpage tracking this incident.

Speaking by phone, Forest Service spokesperson Tim Jones said firing operations ended Tuesday. Firefighters sometimes purposely light fires to help the conflagration from becoming growing and consuming more brush and other natural materials. These planned operations are the reason why the fire’s acreage has grown, Jones said.

“I would expect to see a containment increase over the next day or two,” he said, adding the size of the fire would be expected to decrease.

Fire operations are not using fixed-wing planes of any sort now, although such planes were helping to control the fire by dropping water and/or fire retardant earlier. More recently, helicopters and drones have been deployed in the area, Jones said.

“Tuesday’s firing operation on the west side of the sugarloaf fire was successful, utilizing lower intensity fire to eliminate fuels between the main fire and the indirect fire line at cow creek,” says a Wednesday news release. “Fire activity was moderate yesterday with primarily backing, creeping and smoldering fire.

“The cold front passed through bringing higher relative humidity, lower wind speeds, cooler temperatures and cloudy conditions. Today, fire activity is predicted to be low with creeping and smoldering of unburned pockets of fuel within the current fire perimeter.”

For updates on the fire, visit WyomingNews.com and LaramieBoomerang.com.

By wpadmin

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