Firefighters Continue to Battle Fern Lake Fire at Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday, December 02 2012 19:09   Rocky Mountain
UPDATE: The Fern Lake Fire at Rocky Mountain National Park continued to grow Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, as high winds fanned the flames on the south side of the fire, just west of Steep Mountain.

The fire is still within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National park. Firefighters are focusing their efforts to keep the fire from spreading to the south and Hollowell Park.

rm_firefighter_on_slopeFirefighters have made significant progress improving fireline on the north side of the fire from Bear Lake Road west along Cub Lake Road to the Fern Lake Trailhead. The majority of the town of Estes Park is unaffected by the Fern Lake Fire. The fire has burned approximately 3,580 acres as of Sunday, but that number is expected to grow.

Strong winds gusting to 60 to 70 mph were expected throughout Sunday night and Monday morning, but then easing off.

The fire more than doubled in size and spread approximately three miles in 35 minutes during the early morning hours of Dec. 1, making a significant run to the east. The fire is 20 percent contained at this time.

The fire started Oct. 9, but before Saturday posed no real threat to persons or property.

"It's been a very stubborn fire," David Eaker fire spokesperson for the National Park Service, told Travel and History Magazine Sunday night. "It started in a very steep, remote area of the park, with a lot of dead trees and branches making it unsafe to put firefighters in. It had not been a major threat until the winds changed (on Saturday morning) and pushed it."

The priorities of fire managers continue to be firefighter and public safety, incident stabilization and control of the fire perimeter to keep it from spreading beyond the park boundaries so residents may be allowed to re-enter when it is safe for them to do so.

Approximately 200 personnel are working on the fire and more resources are on the way, according to Eaker.

No injuries have been reported. Only one private cabin is confirmed lost in Moraine Park, within Rocky Mountain National Park.

Specialized forestry equipment that cut and stack trees are creating a fire break on the South Lateral Moraine and working around Tuxedo Park and the Hwy 66 corridor. Air support assigned to the fire could not be used again on Sunday due to strong, erratic winds. Structure protection is being provided by many local fire departments.

The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park via Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance is closed, although Fall River Visitor Center remains open.

To see our earlier report on the Fern Fire, click here.


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