GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES
ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4)- The Fern Lake Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park has grown to about 400 acres. Cooler temperatures and high humidity are helping firefighters fight the fire but gusty winds could impact efforts.
The fire remained uncontained at 4 p.m. Wednesday. It was advancing slowly in all directions.
“It’s an uncontained fire, more than 300 acres. We’ve got a crew on site to assess how large it is,” said Rocky Mountain National Park spokesman James Doyle. “We’re just trying to get a handle on it at this point.”
The fire is burning two miles west of Fern Lake Trailhead on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Moraine Park which is bisected by Bear Lake Road.
Bear Lake Road remained closed Wednesday morning.
There are 65 firefighters fighting the fire. The fire is burning in steep, forested terrain up-slope toward alpine tundra. There are no structures threatened.
About 120 fire personnel and seven fire engines were expected to fight the fire on Thursday.
The turbulent air has made it difficult for firefighters to estimate the exact size of the fire.
“It is gusting here today and that could affect the fire behavior. Until we get a full assessment from the crews on the ground we really won’t know big this fire is or what its movement is at this point,” said Doyle.
No new evacuations have been ordered however Moraine Park Campground was evacuated on Tuesday and remained closed on Wednesday. Trail Ridge Road, Highway 34, remained open on Wednesday. Trails west of Bear Lake Road and south of Trail Ridge Road are closed.
Air tankers and heavy helitankers fighting the fire Wednesday morning were called off the fire in the afternoon because of high winds.
That helicopter and another helitanker are expected to be available tomorrow for fire suppression efforts. Weather conditions call for today’s gusty westerly winds to diminish overnight. Overnight temperatures are expected to be 25-30 degrees. No rain is forecast for the area of the fire through the end of the week.
It is unusual to have a wildfire this time of year in the park.
“The weather is uncommonly mild now as opposed to the summer time where we have lightning storms and obviously we have less people in the park now. It is relatively rare to have a wildfire this time of year,” said Doyle.
Tonight, fire crews will continue to monitor the fire. As soon as possible on Thursday, fire crews will continue to work to contain the fire inside park boundaries, north of Glacier Creek, west of Hollowell Park and south of Trail Ridge Road.
The cause of the fire is not known.
Smoke remains visible in Estes Park. Park staff are working closely with Larimer County and Town of Estes Park officials.
Due to fire conditions at Rocky Mountain National Park, smoking and open fires in the park’s backcountry are now prohibited.