Friday, November 23, 2012

Update on the Fern Lake Fire

Rocky Mountain National Park published this update on the Fern Lake Fire this afternoon:

On Thanksgiving Day the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park produced smoke that could be seen from the surrounding area. Due to dry and unseasonably warm weather, the fire crept toward Spruce Creek and grew in size to over 1200 acres. While snow lies on north-facing aspects, the fire is occasionally torching trees on steep, dry slopes. Fire managers are monitoring the fire and are planning for any change in fire behavior.

The forecast for the area calls for low humidity, low to moderate temperatures, and gusty winds. More smoke is expected to be seen mid-day today and until the current weather pattern changes. A Type 1 helicopter has been ordered to assist with suppression actions. Additional resources are being put on standby.

A fire and smoking ban is in effect immediately, and until further notice, in the backcountry of the park, east of the Continental Divide.

Moraine Park Campground remains open and campfires in grates are allowed. Use of fire anywhere in the area should be used with extreme caution.

For visitor safety, trails in the immediate area of western Moraine Park and the fire are closed to hikers, once again. This includes Fern Lake Road beyond the winter parking lot, Fern Lake Trail all the way to Lake Helene (by The Pool, Fern Falls, Fern Lake, Odessa Lake), the Cub Lake Trail from the trailhead to The Pool and the Mill Creek Trail from the Mill Creek Basin campsites to the Cub Lake Trail. Visitors who ignore trail closures will be issued a citation. Trails are posted and physically closed.

Suppressing the Fern Lake Fire with firefighters on the ground is extremely unsafe. The terrain is steep, there are numerous hazardous trees that could topple, fuel loads are heavy, and evacuation of an injured firefighter would be extremely difficult. Fire managers have and will actively manage portions of the fire, while opting to ensure fire fighter safety and wait for winter conditions to stop the fire spread and eventually put it out.


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