Train’s brake, bearing like sparked fire

by nathan oster

Firefighters from Greybull, Basin, Worland the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management were all needed to tame a brush fire that engulfed a large chunk of mostly private land Monday afternoon between Basin and Greybull.

Brent Godfrey, the Big Horn County fire warden, said he got a call around 4 p.m. from a concerned citizen, alerting him to a fire burning along the river bottom. The location was described by dispatch as directly east of the radio station, which lies halfway between Basin and Greybull.

Upon arrival at the scene, Godfrey immediately called out Greybull and Basin firefighters and, fearing the blaze would spread onto nearby BLM land, also notified the Cody interagency dispatch.

The Forest Service and the BLM sent trucks, as did the Worland Fire Department.

“We spent until about 10:30 working on it, making sure it wasn’t going to go anywhere,” Godfrey said early Tuesday afternoon. “They went out again today before noon and have been mopping up the hot spots.”

Godfrey estimated that the blaze consumed “70 to 80 acres” and said it was likely caused by a train with either a bad bearing or a hung brake.  The fire consumed mostly private land belonging to Wilford Brimley.  Some BLM land to the south also burned, he said.

Without the help from outside agencies, the fire would have been much worse, he said.

“That thing could have kept going down the river and we would have still been fighting it this morning.”

Godfrey added, “People need to be extremely cautious when burning right now and they need to make sure they are letting the sheriff’s office of the Lovell Police Department know before they are going to conduct any controlled burns.  The fuel moistures and the fuels are extremely dry and fire departments are having to fight a lot of uncontrolled burns.”