Burning in grass, brush and mixed conifer, the Cow Camp Fire in North Albany County continues to grow and is now estimated at over 3,500 acres. It continues to be driven by swirling winds, dry fuels and above average temperatures.

The fire is approximately five miles southeast of Laramie Peak and is currently burning on the Medicine Bow National Forest and private lands.  State lands are also in close proximity.

Gusty winds last night continued pushing the fire in multiple directions and following Tuesday night’s growth containment has dropped to around 10%.

With the help of a local Type III Incident Management Team, the U.S. Forest Service continues to manage this fire with a full suppression strategy, using direct attack where appropriate and indirect tactics where terrain or other conditions dictate the need to step back.

At least 150 personnel are currently assigned to the fire, including Hot Shot crews and several fire engines.  Air resources include two Type III helicopters, one Type I Helitanker, one Type I airtanker, and two single-engine airtankers.  Despite Tuesday night’s setback, dozers and hand crews made progress in establishing new containment line on Wednesday.

Air attack, which has been effective in helping contain the fire, will continue as weather and smoke conditions allow.

Weather forecasts in the area are calling for lower temperatures and higher humidity on Thursday.  Moderating weather conditions should be helpful for incoming Incident Commander Joe Lowe.  His Type II Incident Management Team from South Dakota will officially take over management of the fire at 6 a.m. on Thursday.  Increasing fire complexity drove the decision to elevate management of the incident to a Type II team.

In addition to making ground operations difficult, the terrain often generates erratic winds.  Despite variable winds, the fire has not advanced towards a local youth camp and crews have been able to conduct fuels mitigation work to help protect structures.

Both the Cottonwood Park Road (County Road 71) and the Fletcher Park Road (County Road 716) have been closed to the public by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office.  The North Laramie River Trailhead, northeast of the fire, and the road into the trail are also both closed.

Lightning is suspected to have started the blaze that has been burning since Sunday night and was discovered Monday morning by Black Mountain Lookout.