Wyoming wildfire forces hundreds of evacuations

Wyoming Wildfire
In this Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015, photo, heavy smoke rests at Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park near Evansville, Wyo. The fast-moving grass fire that started at a landfill destroyed an unknown number of homes and other buildings and forced hundreds of people to evacuate from a rural area in Wyoming. (Alan Rogers/The Casper Star-Tribune via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A wildfire tearing through central Wyoming destroyed buildings and forced hundreds of evacuations.

The fire has burned at least 10 homes and several outbuildings, with many of the structures listed as complete losses.

A second day in a row of dry weather and strong wind Monday caused the fire to spread across more than 15 square miles of grassland near Evansville, just east of Casper.

Nobody was reported hurt but firefighters struggled to contain the flames. Some 100 firefighters and two air tankers were on the scene.

An evacuation center was set up at Casper College.

Winds topping 50 mph Sunday afternoon pushed the fire onto the grassland from a composting area at a landfill about a mile from Evansville. The flames spread into a thinly populated area and a rural subdivision, Natrona County Fire Marshall Bob Fawcett said.

“The winds were the biggest factor in it getting out of control and away from that area,” Fawcett said Monday.

Flames resumed spreading after the wind picked back up Monday afternoon. Police, who had allowed some evacuees to return under escort to check on livestock and other animals, kept the evacuation order in place.

Fawcett estimated the fire burned several thousand acres. Firefighters were still assessing the damage, including how many structures burned, Fawcett said.

The cause of the fire at the composting area Saturday evening remained unknown.

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