(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 the Fremont County Fire District, Lander City Fire, and Dubois Fire District. Most of the firefighters who had been on the line for two consecutive weeks have returned home for a day off and as of this morning (August 1) have returned to Dubois. 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 trained and have the capacity to fight both wildland and structural fires. [image: 0 (2).jpeg] *Fire approaches the MacKenzie Ranch* To date zero structures have been lost. "To work on something of this scale and to have our crews be as successful as they have been, I think it speaks volumes of our local volunteer firefighter team," said Wempen. 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 made the following statement to Wempen: *“The county engines were by far the best trained and best firefighters I have had on an out-of-area fire."* Wempen reacted to that statement saying, "I think this statement exemplifies the caliber of our volunteer firefighters that we have here locally. They are very well trained and dedicated to their communities." Wempen highlighted the Fremont County Wildland Fire Management Program (Firewise) as having a large positive impact on the protection of structures. Firewise
is a Western
Wildland Urban Interface Grant Program which has been used by Fremont
County Fire to provide wildland fire hazard mitigation for residents of
Fremont County, including areas in and around the Lava Mountain Fire. The
program was established in the fall of 2000 to develop a cooperative plan
to lessen the likelihood of severe wildland fires in the wildland/urban
Wempen also noted that the Forest Service's Fuel Treatment Project was
another contributor to the successful protection of structures. The project
began in 2009 and included thinning and clearing of land from Lava Mountain
all the way down towards the Wind River corridor. "Had this work not been
done, we definitely would have had lost structures," noted Wempen.
*County crews assemble sprinkler systems and attack lines at the Triangle C
"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
*All photos h/t Ron Wempen. Feature photo: Dusty Citron as the crews
prepare for fire at the MacKenzie Ranch / Pitchengine Communities*