Reservoir Fire Grows, Area Closure Reinstated, Burnout Planned

The Reservoir Fire, located about one-half mile northwest of Shell Reservoir in Big Horn County in the Cloud Peak Wilderness, is still being managed for multiple objectives.  These objectives include public and firefighter safety, protection of structures and private land, and allowing the fire to regenerate decadent timber to improve wildlife habitat.  The fire is being managed by local Forest Service resources, and has grown to approximately 20 acres since its detection on August 28th.

Due to the fire growth and continued hot and dry weather predicted, the Forest Service has reinstated a full closure in the Shell and Adelaide Reservoirs area for public safety.  District Ranger Dave Hogen stated that “with only one access road in and out of the fire and the potential for large fire growth, it is not safe for people to be in the area.”

In the likely path of the fire are a cabin and two outhouses at Adelaide Reservoir, and an outhouse at Shell Reservoir.  Rather than letting the fire make a run at these structures, fire managers have decided to wrap the structures with protective material, install sprinklers, and burn out the fuels around these structures.  The burnout is planned beginning Friday, September 9th, and may require several days to implement.

A long-term course of action plan to protect structures and private land near the perimeter of the fire planning area was completed on September 4th by a Type 3 Incident Management Team, with actions identified to implement should the fire grow significantly to a few hundred acres.  In addition, indirect handline was constructed above the Shell Creek and Ranger Creek structures, for use in a burnout if needed in the future.

Smoke will likely be more visible from both the east and west side of the mountains as the fire grows and burnout operations take place, and may settle into the Shell Canyon drainage during the nighttime hours.

For additional information, contact the Medicine Wheel/Paintrock Ranger District Office, 307-548-6541, visit the Forest’s website (, or goto