Sheriff O'Malley and other officials answer questions about the Squirrel Creek fire at a public briefing Tuesday. Photo: Trevor T. Trujillo, Townsquare Media

An inter-departmental panel addressed questions from the public about the Squirrel Creek Fire on Tuesday night.  Approximately 300 people gathered in the Laramie Jr. High gymnasium Tuesday evening to get the latest about the blaze and to pose questions to the panel.  Here are some informational highlights from the discussion.

What is the size of the fire? 9,000 to 10,000 acres (as of 9:00 PM Tuesday night.)

Who is working on fighting the fire? California Inter-agency Incident Management is heading the fight against the fire.  The Incident Commander is Rocky Opliger.  They are working in conjunction with Albany County Rural Fire District #1, Wyoming State Forestry Services, Albany County Sheriff’s Department, Laramie Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management, and The American Cross as well as others.  292 individuals are listed as working on the fire with seven hand crews, eleven fire engines, one bulldozer, one water tender and two helicopters.

Have any homes been lost? One cabin has been lost along with three outbuildings (structures that aren’t considered homes).

What caused the fire? The cause is still undetermined at this time.  Investigators are on scene however and an investigation is under way.

What can I do to help? Officials at the meeting have said that since not many homes have been lost, the need for clothing, furniture and other goods of that nature is low.  However The Red Cross can make use of monetary donations, which can be made via their website.  They are looking, however, for some goods for the firefighters.  These items are prepackaged snacks that will not melt in high temperatures (no chocolate), new socks, eye drops, foot powder, bottled water and baby wipes.  Donations of these goods can be dropped off at the evacuation center at the Albany County Fairgrounds Building.

If I’m an evacuated resident, can I check on my home or get items out? California Inter-agency Incident Management is working on a re-entry strategy with local officials.  Incident Manager Rocky Opliger says that they will work with residents when that strategy is determined, and it is deemed safe for residents to return.

What security measures are in place to protect vacant properties? Albany County Sheriff’s Office is running regular full-time patrol in the area to prevent the possible looting of homes.  At the public briefing Sheriff Dave O’Malley said that they were aware of the potential of looting, but said “It’s a little different environment.  Our people are different and respect each other a lot more and we just don’t have an influx of that kind of thing.  But it can happen and we are certainly aware of that.”

Where can livestock growers get information about moving livestock from the evacuation areas? Arrangements have been made to ease brand inspections in crossing state and county lines.  People wanting more information about brand inspections or who have questions about evacuating livestock are invited to contact Wyoming Livestock Board’s Dale Bratton at (307)-777-6437.

Where can I get more information about what’s going on now? Members of Tuesday night’s panel have been pointing to the InciWeb website (click link).  The website is being used to give information to the public.  That information is also available at the Albany County website (click link).  The county website is also where people can sign up for the Code Red notification system.  Code Red is a system that utilizes both land lines and cellphones to alert residents to emergency information.  A public telephone hotline has also been established to give out information on the fire.  That number is (307) 721-1801.  KOWB will also post information on kowb1290.com as information becomes available.