By Tracie Mitchell
Staff Writer 

2018 was a hot year for Worland firefighters

 

January 10, 2019

Karla Pomeroy

Smoke from the Terek Fire north and east of Worland billowed up over the cliffs as seen from Lane 6. The Terek fire was started by a lightning strike around 10:30 p.m. July 8.

WORLAND – The Worland Fire Department had a busy 2018 running to 186 calls involving fire, hazardous material response and/or car accidents.

Worland Fire Department Chief Chris Kocher stated that the Terek Fire was probably the most notable fire fought in 2018, but that there was something even more notable. "The cooperation that all the fire agencies in the area as well as entities that came in to help, that's probably one of the most notable things about 2018. We plan for it and we plan for it in regards to all

agencies working together and it's a great sight to see when you have all the entities work together so smoothly." Kocher added that he is proud of the crews: Washakie County with Worland and Ten Sleep Fire, BLM, Forest Service, Big Horn County resources, Hot Springs County resources , who did a tremendous job with no injuries in most cases.

"It's not every day that you burn up 42,236 acres in your own district. That was in combination with Washakie and Big Horn County. With that being said, just in our area here Washakie County stuff that was either in Washakie County and went into Big Horn or Washakie into Hot Springs County we burned up just short of 60,000 acres this summer," Kocher said.


The Terek Fire, located in the Bonanza Oil Field area was born around 10:30 p.m. on July 8 and kept firefighters from Washakie and Big Horn County, BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service hopping for days as the hot temperatures and low humidity drove the fire activity.

The fire was deemed to have full perimeter containment July 13.

In 2018, The Science Channel T.V. show Strange Evidence featured the Worland Fire Department on Aug. 21, for a sulfur fire, just north of town in July of 2017. Much to the dismay of the Worland Fire Department, the T.V. show didn't use the facts of what happened that day. "I truly believe that it was an absolute travesty of justice. I wrote a letter to them stating I believe that what they portrayed was nothing more than somebody yelling fire in a crowded movie theater. I got multiple phone calls asking if this was truly an issue, absolutely there was nothing to lead them to believe it would be anything close to what they portrayed it to be. We provided them factual information," Kocher stated. "It was interesting working with the crew when they came in but I don't believe they portrayed it to anything close to what it was. The fire was an interesting fire that happened in 2017 but in no way shape or form was it attributable to the things they tried to link it to," he added.

The sulfur fire was accidentally started when the exhaust pipe/ manifold of a motorcycle made contact with the sulfur while the motorcycle was crossing a mound and became bogged down. The sulfur mound is a remnant of the Texas Gulf Sulfur Company which operated in that area in the 1950s.

In addition to handling the 186 calls, the Worland Fire Department also helped out other agencies that needed assistance 16 times. Crews responded to fires in Colorado, California and outside of Washakie County in Wyoming, as the need arose.

A lot of hours were spent by the Worland Fire Department this year helping keep the community safe. "Typically our folks put in about 6,000 hours a year, last year we put in about 6,538 hours. That's between calls and training," Kocher said.

 
 

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