October 13, 2015 - 9:30 AM
CASPER, Wyo. - At least a dozen families lost their homes and residents are assessing livestock losses from a wind-driven grass fire that burned nearly 16 square miles in central Wyoming.
The fire started Saturday in a composting area at a regional landfill near Casper. Winds gusting up to 50 mph on Sunday pushed the blaze to the east, forcing evacuations in the Evansville area.
No injuries have been reported, said Natrona County Fire Marshal Bob Fawcett. He did not know the total number of buildings lost.
Homeowner Daniel Clark tells the Casper Star-Tribune (http://bit.ly/1K6sR9d ) that along with his house and barn he lost six dogs, five cats, two horses, a cow and his wife's wedding ring. He was able to rescue two dogs and a horse before smoke forced him out of the area.
One of the horses that died was shot by a neighbour after it ran out of the barn in flames.
"It's a nightmare," Clark said. "I don't even know how to feel."
Officials expected to lift Sunday's evacuation order at 4 p.m. Monday, but it was extended into Tuesday. Residents were able to go back into the area with a sheriff's escort to check on and retrieve livestock and pets.
About 130 firefighters worked Monday to try to contain the fire, but winds picked up at midday. Air tankers dumped retardant on the fire while helicopters dipped water from the nearby North Platte River.
The Wyoming State Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause of the fire, which remained 50 per cent contained on Monday evening, Fawcett said.
News from © The Associated Press, 2015