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Evacuations remain possibility as Jackson chamber welcomes tourists

Although Jackson Hole residents are waiting for a possible evacuation order in the Horsethief Canyon Fire, the Chamber of Commerce assures visitors that the area is still open for business.

“Emergency services are working hard to contain the fire and to date no structures of any nature have been impacted,” said Jim Waldrop, chairman of the board of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce.”The experienced hospitality staffs throughout Jackson Hole continue to provide the kind of experience and service our visitors are seeking, and more importantly, the safety of our guests will not be compromised.”

About 1,000 residents in the Jackson area are being told to be prepared to leave because of the 2,700-acre wildfire burning south of town.

So far, authorities have not issued any mandatory evacuation orders because of the blaze.

“At this time the fires are not affecting our major tourism hubs including downtown Jackson, Teton Village, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Jackson Hole Airport,” the chamber said in a news release. “There is no need to change travel plans. If in the unlikely event this changes, communications to this end will follow.”

Still, emergency officials are encouraging residents to be ready.

The residents in the Cache Creek and Game Creek drainages have been encouraged to prepare for potential evacuation. Although there isn’t an evacuation in effect in that area, residents are asked to begin assembling irreplaceable items.

“Have a go-kit,” Richard Ochs, the county’s emergency management coordinator, told Local News 8 on Monday. “Have a bag next to the door so if we do have to knock on your door and ask you to evacuate, you can grab that bag and go because there will not be time to go searching your house at that point.”

On Tuesday afternoon, emergency officials wanted to clarify what was said at a community meeting Monday: If an evacuation is called for, notifications will be made door to door as well as through the media. At that time, the public will be expected to immediately evacuate the area. Law enforcement will allow people back into the area to gather their things, but only if time and conditions allow — this cannot be guaranteed.

Teton County Emergency Management said there was a misprint on the door hanger some residents received. Those who live in the area should not turn off natural gas if they evacuate. The utility companies and emergency responders will take care of it.

Emergency crews recommended affected residents take the following steps to prepare for a possible evacuation:

Make arrangements for any animals and livestock. Back your car into the driveway for a quick exit should it become necessary. Load your vehicle with photographs, irreplaceable paper work, laptop computers. Assemble any pets into one room or a confined area so you can gather them and remove them quickly if necessary.

Fire officials are asking people not to place sprinklers or hoses on lawns, but instead position them so they may be accessible to firefighters.

On Tuesday, crews were focusing their efforts on familiarizing themselves with eastern Jackson neighborhoods and doing preventative fire work there. According to a news release, the fire held “relatively steady” overnight.

The fire has burned in a forested mountain area less than two miles from the town. It is about 10 percent contained.

Nearly 200 firefighters aided by three helicopters are battling the fire. More firefighting resources are being ordered.

Snow King Resort also is in the path of the fire and has closed its summer lift line and trails in the area.

The fire was human-caused and ignited Saturday.

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