Snow King, Cache closed; high winds feared

Updated 2:15 p.m. with closure map, after jump

The Little Horsethief Fire, as seen last night from south of town.

Despite an intensive effort by firefighters, the Little Horsethief Fire continues to burn south of Jackson, and with high winds expected today, the Bridger-Teton National Forest has closed trails around Snow King and Cache Creek.

The fire had burned 750 acres as of this morning, according to the interagency incident page. Despite drops of water and flame retardant by tankers and helicopters, it was only 10 percent contained as of 10 p.m. last night. The fire is moving north and northeast.

One Teton County fire engine was destroyed last night while refueling when an ember landed on spilled gasoline. Firefighters ran and escaped without injury.

Wind gusts of 30 mph from the southwest are expected today. Game Creek residents have been told to stay ready to evacuate, if necessary.

The Snow King chairlift will not operate. Trails are closed around Cache and Game creeks, except for a short loop near the Cache parking lot. The Ferrin’s Trail on Snow King is closed.

“With the winds and fire weather predicted it is unsafe to have anyone back in the Cache Creek drainage,” fire managers posted on the incident page.

A tanker drops flame retardant Saturday. Click to enlarge.

The fire started at about 3 p.m. Saturday at the mouth of Little Horsethief Canyon, 5 miles south of town. It appears to have started in someone’s backyard, although fire managers have not yet identified the cause.

Three helicopters are fighting the blaze, along with four engines. Firefighters from the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and Grand Teton National Park are working together. A Type II team, which brings additional state and federal resources, has been requested for this evening.

For updates, continue to visit InciWeb or follow Teton County EMS on Twitter. Sign up for emergency alerts here.

Last night, fire managers lifted the evacuation order for the Little Horsethief, Elk Drive and Deer Drive area, although residents should remain cautious.

(Photos by Taylor Phillips/EcoTour Adventures)

Update 2:15 p.m.: Here is the closure map:

Map shows fire is about 2 miles from town. Click to enlarge.

Update: Here is a photo of the burnt engine, by Sargent Schutt:

Charred remains of Jackson Hole Fire/EMS engine 18.

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Posted under Environment, Ski Resorts, Sports, Weather

11 Comments so far

  1. Cara September 9, 2012 10:18 am

    I heard that it started after someone was burning trash. Any confirmation of this? Thanks for the update, JS

  2. js September 9, 2012 10:46 am

    It certainly was not a smoldering lightning strike. Started in a backyard in the residential area at the mouth of the canyon. No official word yet on the exact cause.

    Update: Another theory being floated is a spark from a lawnmower.

  3. js September 9, 2012 11:30 am

    In other bad news from a crazy weekend, a cyclist competing in LOTOJA died yesterday after crashing and falling off a Snake River bridge south of Jackson. He hit a pothole, overcorrected and went over the guardrail, falling 35 feet into little more than a foot of water, according to a Teton County sheriff’s press release.

    The cyclist was identified as Robert Verhaaren, 42, of Mesa, Ariz.

  4. gm September 9, 2012 12:10 pm

    Why don’t people wait for an officail cause for the fire before accussing people who maybe innocent. Rumors can ruin peoples lives so just stop and wait for the official release!

  5. Colleen September 9, 2012 1:47 pm

    Jim, thanks for having the most complete and up-to-date coverage I’ve been able to find (news outlets, are you listening?)

  6. Peg September 9, 2012 2:04 pm

    Stayed at a friends house a year ago in this very same neighborhood ! Terrible to see these pics even knowing her house if going to be okay and she’s not there to play fireman with the hose !

  7. Teresa September 10, 2012 8:05 am

    We passed over 370 bikers(my daughter counted as we passed them) in the Latoja bike race headed to Jackson hauling a horse trailer. I was shocked to see these bikers swerving in and out of their huge groups into the middle of the road. I was scared I was going to hit a car head on to try to avoid them. Isn’t there a law they have to ride single file. I passed groups of 20 to 30 bikers together with no room to pass without crossing into the the passing lane. it was a frightening eperience. Could they make rules for these races so it is not so dangerous for the drivers and/or the bikers.

  8. a driver and a biker September 10, 2012 6:10 pm

    hi, teresa:
    i am both a cyclist and a motorist, so i have seen both sides of the situatoin. i know how frustrating it can be as a driver.

    cyclists should obey the rules of the road, of course, but if cyclists are in the road, motorists need to treat them just the same as moving vehicles (i.e., if you wouldn’t pass another car, don’t pass the cyclists). yes, it can be frustrating if they are traveling slower than a driver prefers, but it is also frustrating when there are slow-moving drivers on the road.

    anyway, this topic seems to be about the fire, so i’m not sure why you are bringing up cyclists here, other than you must have been frustrated.

    sometimes motorists do not realize how terrifying they are to cyclists (and vice versa). a little understanding goes a long way.

    370 individual cyclists is quite a bit for your daughter to count, one-by-one!

  9. Harry September 11, 2012 10:43 am

    I too hate road bikers, and do not understand why they would want to ride on roads when there are trails that exist. Hopefully the recent terrible incident will have a positive effect and cancel this race for next year as it is a huge hassle for locals. The riders in this race have a false sense of entitlement thinking they can take over our roads for a day.

    Anyone who is in the middle of the road going under the speed limit , regardless of what they are riding or driving will be passed by me aggressively and if necessary illegally. I have no tolerance for that type of selfish behavior.

  10. AW September 11, 2012 1:33 pm

    Harry, no one else said they hate road bikers. You’re talking about vehicular homicide. As a respectful cyclist and citizen, I find your attitude to be frightening.

    Jim, thanks for keeping us posted on our local current events.

  11. S44 September 11, 2012 3:19 pm

    The death of an athlete in LOTOJA is sad and terrible. My thoughts go out to the cyclist’s friends and family. What a freaky accident.

    LOTOJA is ONE day in 365. The race travels through various communities at different times of the day. Many of those communities embrace the race and the chance to be involved in one of the most amazing athletic events around.

    Lots of one day or multi-day bike races close the roads to vehicle traffic for an event to prevent unsafe conditions for the athletes. I, personally, wish LOTOJA could be held on closed roads. LOTOJA, like many other local events, brings in lots of dollars to our community.

    Cyclists have every right to be on the road. Yes, they need to be respectful and follow the laws, just like drivers. Being a defensive rider is a must, especially knowing there are many who do not support your right to be on the road. It would be nice to not have to be defensive, but that is the reality for cyclists in many communities.

    Mountain biking and road cycling may both involve bicycles but they are different sports.

    “Selfish behavior” can also mean believing as a driver or any other user that you must get to where you are going in the shortest amount of time no matter what the conditions on the road may be.

    Thank you, Jim, for keeping us informed and most of all, thank you, fire crews for all your hard work!

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