here’s where fire appears to have started

By Jim Stanford on September 10, 2012

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Update 5:30 p.m.: “Unless conditions deteriorate significantly, there will not be an evacuation tonight.” Hurray! Every flare-up on the ridge quenched quickly.

Update 4:30 p.m.: Crews appear to have the upper hand. No flames on ridge, smoke diminishing.

Update 3:10 p.m.: Flames have begun to crest Snow King again up Cache Creek, closer to town than last night, but a slurry bomber just doused the ridge with retardant. The battle rages over east Jackson.

Charred areas of grass and sage lead to this backyard in the Little Horsethief subdivision south of town. Cops say the fire originated in a barrel or drum during an illegal burn. Click to enlarge.

Authorities have confirmed that the Little Horsethief Fire, which ignited Saturday and has burned more than 2,000 acres around Jackson, was started by an illegal burn at a residence south of town.

The charring emanates from a property at the mouth of Wilson Canyon, adjacent to Bridger-Teton National Forest. County records show it belongs to James Anderson III of Jackson. Anderson has not responded to a phone message left this morning.

Police Chief Todd Smith said the fire started near a residence and was “intended to be a controlled burn.” A fire ban was in effect at the time.

Violating the fire ban is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $750 and six months in jail. The Teton County fire marshal is heading the investigation and likely will submit a report to the county attorney.

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Horsethief blaze now at 1,500 acres

By Jim Stanford on September 10, 2012

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Update 11:40 a.m.: Evacuation advisory extended to residents east of Vine Street and south of East Kelly Avenue, including Snow King Resort. This is due to evacuation logistics, not change in fire status. Map here.

Update 10:15 a.m.: Decision postponed another two hours. Fire managers may take preventive measures on properties in east Jackson. Jackson Hole Fire/EMS is managing the effort in town, while the Type II team oversees fight in forest.

Update 8:15 a.m.: Still awaiting word on evacuation, but in a gift from the heavens, rain has begun to fall. The storm is passing mostly to the north, but east Jackson is cold and wet. Decision postponed till 10 a.m.

Update 7:15 a.m.: Town of Jackson issues evacuation advisory for residents south of Broadway and east of Redmond. Town advises residents to be prepared for evacuation should an order be issued. Decision to come at 8 a.m.

The Little Horsethief Fire crests the ridge atop Snow King into Cache Creek on Sunday. Spot fires were visible up Cache Creek on Sunday night.

The Little Horsethief Fire had grown to 1,500 acres and was only 15 percent contained as of 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the latest incident report.

Sunday evening felt like the whole town was gathered around a huge campfire, watching and waiting with a mixture of fascination and trepidation.

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fire making run up Wilson Canyon

By Jim Stanford on September 9, 2012

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Update 6:10 p.m.: The fire has reached the ridge atop the Cache Creek drainage, approximately 2 miles from the trailhead. Fire managers are warning residents of the Snow King area to be prepared to implement an evacuation plan Monday.

For more recent updates, see the comments.

A crowd gathers on the butte above Nelson Drive to watch the Little Horsethief Fire as it burns behind Snow King. Several times flames were visible on the ridge atop Cache Creek, but the fire never encroached down the canyon.

As afternoon winds have picked up, the Little Horsethief Fire is burning in Wilson Canyon behind Snow King, giving residents of east Jackson a close-up view of the fight.

A 100-acre spot fire ahead of the main blaze has sent a huge plume of smoke above the ridge separating Cache Creek from Game Creek. But the main fire is still 1 to 1.5 miles from Snow King, a county spokeswoman said.

Residents are out in the streets, watching the smoke billow over Cache. Tankers have been making passes as they head toward Wilson Canyon to drop retardant.

Charlotte Reynolds, Teton County information officer, said there is no reason to panic. East Jackson is “not in imminent danger at this time,” she said.

But one man on Willow Street was packing his truck for a possible evacuation, saying he is taking no chances. The man said he is from Colorado Springs, where a fire torched hundreds of homes in June.

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Snow King, Cache closed; high winds feared

By Jim Stanford on September 9, 2012

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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.

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Horsethief fire forces evacuations

By Jim Stanford on September 8, 2012

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Little Horsethief Fire rages south of Jackson. Photo by Jay Wright.

A 400-acre fire burning behind the Little Horsethief subdivision south of Jackson already has forced evacuation of an industrial area off Highway 89, and Game Creek residents have been advised to prepare for evacuation.

No structures are threatened in Game Creek as of the latest update at 6:20 p.m. from Teton County Emergency Management. Also, fire managers report no danger to Snow King, according to the interagency incident page.

Two helicopters and four engines are fighting the blaze, which is burning on the east side of the highway about 6 miles south of town. At 6:15 p.m., a tanker dropped nearly 3,000 gallons of flame retardant on an adjacent hillside.

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