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Big Meadows Fire Takes Toll On Tourism

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The Big Meadows Fire (credit: Stephen Rapp)

The Big Meadows Fire (credit: Stephen Rapp)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4)- The huge plume of smoke from the Big Meadows Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park can be seen for miles and it’s taking a toll on tourism in that area.

The fire has burned 333 acres in the west end of the park. No structures are threatened but the fire is sending up a huge plume of smoke which could be damaging to something else- Colorado’s tourism industry.

“They do have an effect. Our job is to make sure our guests understand where we are and that everything here is open,” said Suzy Blackhurst of Visit Estes Park.

The fire is still burning in a remote, rugged area of the park, far from Estes Park but it’s already making an impact.

“We left on Tuesday and we knew it was happening and we were hopeful it wouldn’t effect us,” said visitor Lisa Ganske of Minnesota.

Downtown shops like Flavors of the Rockies are seeing a slowdown in foot traffic.

“It has been slow a little bit because of that there has been smoke around, said Flavors of the Rockies employee Nirbndry Knc. “You don’t want to visit the park and the town here if you have all that smoke.”

Park officials are calling for Type 1 and Type 2 fire crews to gain the upper hand but this fire is low on the priority list for Colorado.

“There is still an order out for more of those,” said Rocky Mountain National Park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson. “We are still requesting more.”

At zero percent containment and lightening in the forecast this wildfire could quickly burn out of control.

“We want to continue to get ahead of this fire because again it has the potential to spread with these kinds of conditions,” added Patterson.

As Colorado fires like the Black Forest Fire and Royal Gorge Fire continue to make national headlines businesses in Estes Park worry fear will take it’s toll on tourism.

Blackhurst suggest tourists log on to VisitEstesPark.com to take a look at their live web cameras. They can see live pictures of the smoke from the wildfire and whether it will impact vacation plans.

The Big Meadows Fire was started by lightning Monday on the west side of the park in an area with beetle-killed trees.

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