Today, Tuesday, June 11, an interagency crew consisting of Rocky Mountain National Park and US Forest Service firefighters were flown to the Big Meadows Fire located on the north end of Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The location is roughly 4.5 miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. The preliminary report is the fire did not grow much last night and remains at approximately 2 to 3 acres, mainly burning in grass. The fire was caused by lightning.
Although it is preferred to allow naturally occurring fires to burn for the benefit of the resource and future fire breaks, park managers have decided to suppress the fire when safe to do so. Extended drought conditions and reduced interagency resources weighed in to this decision. The capacity to manage what would likely be a long duration fire is significantly limited. As you can see in the NPS photo below, many of the trees in this area are dead as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestation:
This decision did not come easily; each fire's risk is managed individually. Park managers look at each naturally occurring fire on a case by case basis when determining how best to manage a fire.
High winds today are impacting firefighting operations but have not increased the footprint of the fire significantly. Firefighters have not seen any open flames today and the fuel moisture is relatively high. Smokejumpers are staged nearby if needed. Firefighters will be using minimum impact tools to suppress smoldering grass and other dead and down material. The area does contain beetle killed trees; snags are being removed for firefighter safety.
Currently there are five trails temporarily closed in the area - the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail and the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail.
Today's forecast for the Grand Lake area calls for sunny weather and winds gusting from 20 to 30 MPH.