10:47am

Wed October 10, 2012
Colorado Wildfires

Crews Working to Stomp Out Rocky Mountain National Park Wildfire [Updated]

4:46 p.m. Rocky Mountain National Park officials are reporting that high winds hampered firefighting efforts today. A heavy helitanker was grounded this afternoon due to windy conditions.

The weather also made it hard for fire officials to use general aircraft to assess the fire’s size. Current size is estimated at 400 acres with 0 percent containment.

About 120 personnel and 7 fire engines are expected to be able to fight the fire tomorrow.

Windy conditions are expected to diminish overnight, with temperatures reaching a low of 25 to 30 degrees overnight. No rain is expected this week.

Due to fire conditions at Rocky Mountain National Park, smoking and open fires in the park’s backcountry are now prohibited.

Currently, Bear Lake Road, Upper Beaver Meadows Road and Moraine Park Campground are closed.  Trails west of Bear Lake Road and south of Trail Ridge Road are also closed.

9 a.m. Fire officials are working by air and on land to curb a 300-acre wildfire started on Tuesday on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park.

About 65 personnel and seven fire engines are at work right now. An air tanker (SEAT) and heavy helitanker have arrived and are expected to join the fire suppression efforts later today.

At risk are Moraine Park Campground, which was evacuated yesterday, as well as summer cabins and the Fern Lake Trail. Currently, Bear Lake Road, Upper Beaver Meadows Road and Moraine Park campgrounds are closed.  Trails west of Bear Lake Road and south of Trail Ridge Road are also closed.

Rocky Mountain National Park Public Information Officer Mark DeGregorio says it was unusual for a wildfire to start so late in the season.

“With the wind we had yesterday it was fairly warm. That’s why the fire grew as fast as it did,” he says.

The rugged terrain made it difficult for ground crews to reach the burn zone on Tuesday, but DeGregorio says crews hope to make a clear assessment today of what’s needed.

Also complicating matters is the fact that there are a large number of beetle killed trees near the Fern Lake Fire.

“I think the term unpredictability is a good term to use. It’s not like it’s a determining factor because it’s not. But it gives us something extra that we have to consider,” he says.

Some smoke is visible in Estes Park, but no evacuations of residents of the town are anticipated at this time.

DeGregorio says the cause of the wildfire is still under investigation.

Click here for the latest on the wildfire, you can also check the latest for fire forecasts on our Fire Forecast Interactive Map.

You can follow Grace Hood on Twitter: @GraceHood