Much cooler temperatures with light snow showers greeted firefighters this morning as fire suppression activities continue. The fire is 45 percent contained, reflecting the excellent work safely performed by the 569 firefighters assigned to this incident. The fuels, or vegetation, in the fire area remain unusually dry at around 25 percent and the relative humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) is 30 percent. When these low values are combined with strong winds, the challenges to fire suppression increases.
Yesterday the fire was classified as a low intensity, smoldering fire that did not move very quickly. There are still hot pockets of burning or smoldering logs, as identified from a recent infrared flight on the south and northwest perimeter of the fire.
Today, fire crews will focus on fire line construction and securing recently constructed fire lines. Mop-up work will continue and crews will monitor the entire fire area for hot areas or escape fire. Fire crews will continue to secure the southern fire perimeter between Steep Mountain and Moraine Park. Four helicopters will support fire suppression activities by dropping water where needed. Yesterday, helicopters dropped more water than on any previous day.
As temperatures drop and the wind increases, the wind-chill factor is predicted to decrease to near zero, with hyperthermia becoming a concern for fire crews. Safe vehicle travel to and from the fire area in snow and ice conditions will be emphasized.
Some crews and equipment may be demobilized as fire suppression objectives are met.
Firefighter and public safety remain the top priority while suppressing this fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fire managers are focused on protecting the community and the natural resources of the area.
Smoke and possibly open flames will be visible for an extended period. This smoke comes from well within the burned area and poses no threat of escape.
A Colorado Army National Guard helicopter and crew remain on standby for rescue operations on the Fern Lake Fire. A UH-60 Black Hawk, with a crew of four soldiers and a medic, are based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., ready to respond from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
EVACUATIONS AND CLOSURES
Based on fire managers' recommendations, the Larimer County Sheriff has decided that due to the reduced threat of wildfire and fire suppression progress made during the past few days, residents and business owners may return to all areas previously under evacuation orders. The remaining evacuees were allowed back into the Highway 66 area south of Aspen Brook Drive at 9 a.m. This area will open to the public at noon today.The evacuation center has been closed.
Rocky Mountain National Park officials will reduce road closures beginning at noon today and allow traffic into the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Weather permitting, the road will be open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations. Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley, and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.
Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3,492 acres (Current estimate due to better mapping)
Percent Contained: 45%
Cause: Under Investigation
Structures threatened: 750
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: 1
Cost to Date: $4.8 million
Number of Personnel: 569
Crews:15 (a crew is 20 firefighters)
Water Tenders: 3
For the latest updates on the fire, closings and community meetings, visit the Inciweb website. To keep up with the latest weather related developments and forecasts, please click here.