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Wyoming fires’ growing footprint threatens hundreds of homes

By Arindam Samanta, Kaitlyn Perham  |  October 4, 2018
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Landsat image of the Roosevelt fire. Source: USGS & NASA

Wildfires continue to burn near the Wyoming/Colorado border, and the largest, most destructive ones—the Roosevelt, Marten Creek, and Ryan fires—are at various stages of containment.

More than 60,000 acres burned

The largest of the three—the Roosevelt fire in the western part of the state, 32 miles south of Jackson, Wyoming—has burned more than 60,000 acres since it began on September 15, according to InciWeb, an interagency all-risk incident information management system. With more than 1,000 people fighting the fire, InciWeb says, it is 75 percent contained and expected to be fully contained on October 10.

According to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office, 55 homes have burned in a subdivision called Hoback Ranches. The subdivision is sparsely populated, with a minimum lot size of 10 acres and homes valued up to $1.36 million, according to the Sublette County Assessor’s Office. Most homes in the area are valued at between $250,000 and $500,000. Damage is still being assessed, and about 500 people have been evacuated since the fire began.

The Marten Creek fire has burned nearly 6,500 acres and, according to InciWeb, is more than 90 percent contained. Despite this progress, InciWeb projects the fire won’t be brought fully under control until November 1.

High winds and ample fuel have contributed to the continuing growth of the Ryan fire in southern Wyoming. Spanning the Wyoming/Colorado border, the fire has burned more than 28,000 acres since it started on September 15. According to InciWeb, it is 35 percent contained.

While not unprecedented, the total acreage burned so far in Wyoming is high. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), the year-to-date acres burned in Wyoming exceed 268,000. For comparison, 218,000 acres burned in 2016. The most widespread fire damage recorded for Wyoming was more than 357,000 acres in 2012.

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FireLine heat map of the Roosevelt fire.

FireLine analysis

According to Verisk’s FireLine State Risk Report for Wyoming, more than 100,000 homes are at moderate to extreme risk from wildfire. The Roosevelt fire is in the number one county for high and extreme wildfire risk by number and concentration of housing units. FireLine®, Verisk’s wildfire risk management tool, is guiding the analysis of risk factors seen within the perimeter of the following Wyoming wildfires.

Roosevelt fire

FireLine categorized nearly 89 percent of the Roosevelt fire area as being at high or extreme risk. More than 69 percent of the area was covered with medium to heavy fuels, and more than 42 percent featured steep or extreme slopes. Access for firefighters across most of the area is good. View the FireLine heat map for the Roosevelt fire.

Marten Creek wildfire

FireLine categorized more than 87 percent of the Marten Creek fire area as being at high or extreme risk. Nearly 63 percent of the area was covered with medium to heavy fuels, and more than 71 percent featured steep or extreme slopes. Access for firefighters across most of the area is good. View the FireLine Marten Creek fire heat map.

Ryan fire

FireLine categorized nearly 87 percent of the Ryan fire area as being at high or extreme risk. Nearly 76 percent of the area was covered with medium to heavy fuels, and more than 33 percent featured steep or extreme slopes. Access for firefighters across most of the area is good. View the FireLine Ryan fire heat map.


Arindam Samanta is director of product management and innovation at Verisk. He can be reached at Arindam.Samanta@verisk.com

Kaitlyn Perham is a geospatial analyst at Verisk. She can be reached at Kaitlyn.Perham@verisk.com.

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