‘Accidental Unattended Burn Barrel’ Lead to Reid Canyon Fire
After a wildland fire in Natrona County yesterday that left one family displaced, the Natrona County Fire District has determined that the cause of the fire was due to an 'accidental unattended burn barrel.'
That's according to a press release that the NCFD put out Thursday evening, in which they wrote that on Thursday, July 7, 2022, their team was dispatched to the wildland fire in the area of Natrona Road and West US HWY 20-26.
According to the release, the reporting party initially called in and stated that there was a small grass fire that was spreading quickly, and that it was starting to catch trees on fire. The reporting party then called back and said it had caught a cabin on fire and was spreading quickly.
The release stated that several NCFD units responded to the scene, as did deputies with the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, and firefighters with the Bureau of Land Management and the Bar Nunn Fire Department.
Additionally, the NCFD required ground units from Natrona County Road and Bridge, as well as air support from two S.E.A.T. (Single Engine Air Tanker) planes, and two helicopters - one from Wyoming State Helitack and a Helitack from Twin Falls. An ambulance from Wyoming Medical Center (Banner Health) was also requested.
"Evacuations of the Natrona Road Subdivision began as fire and law crews arrived on scene," the release stated. "NCSO Deputies worked fast to alert the nearby area residents of the fire and put them in the 'Ready' phase of the evacuation process. No other homes were evacuated due to the fire and the evacuation never moved out of the 'Ready' phase."
Crews arrived on scene and immediately began attacking the fire, while beginning fire suppression efforts throughout the area. The release noted that that the fire "only" covered 6.8 acres but, unfortunately, it did destroy one family's house, as well as the family's nearby shop, two trucks, and a tractor. Luckily, nobody from the family, nor anybody else, was injured as a result of the fire.
The release noted that the American Red Cross responded to the incident and issued a Natrona County Burn Fund check to the family.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with this family following this heartbreaking incident," the release stated.
Matt Gacke, the Fire Marshal for the Natrona County Fire District investigated the fire and determined that its cause was an accident.
"The fire was started from a normally operating burn barrel, that was left unattended," the release stated. "The fire spread quickly to surrounding grasses around the barrel and continued to burn due to the dry fuels and wind."
A burn barrel is a metal drum (think a big city trash can) that has been modified to dispose of combustible trash, waste, or other materials via incineration. Burn barrels are useful, but require constant attention.
"We would like to take this time to remind everyone to be safe no matter where you are at or what you are doing when dealing with heat or fire," the release stated. "Although it’s unfortunate we have to bring fire safety up after tragedies like this, we consider it a lesson learned to help prevent future incidents. We would like to remind our residents and visitors to never leave any campfires, burn barrels, or any heat sources unattended. Make sure all fires are cold to the touch before leaving them; put some extra water on it for good measure. Thank you, Natrona County. Stay Safe!"