1:40pm

Mon February 25, 2013
Wildfires

Fern Lake Fire Down, But Not (Officially) Out

Despite Sunday's snowstorm that dumped up to two feet of snow along the Front Range, officials are not yet ready to declare the Fern Lake Fire out.

The fire began Oct. 9 in Rocky Mountain National Park and grew to nearly 6 square miles. Rain and snow during December knocked down the fire considerably, but it continued to smolder into January.

“There’s been no smoke visible for more than a month,” says RMNP spokeswoman Kyle Patterson. Officials can’t verify whether it’s out until they can fly over the area using infrared, which Patterson says won’t happen for a few months.

The fire was believed to be sparked by an illegal campfire, though the cause is still under investigation. Because it’s burning in a canyon with large amounts of dead and downed trees, Patterson says it’s likely the fire is still moving through that fuel.

Officials are concerned about the upcoming fire season, since the weather continues to be extremely dry. Although Sunday’s snowstorm dropped less than six inches over the area, light snow is expected for the northern mountains Tuesday.

U.S. Forest Service firefighters in the Canyon Lakes Ranger District are planning to take advantage of the recent snowfall to burn slash piles. That means smoke may be visible from burns Monday south and west of the Big Elk Meadows subdivision, and Tuesday near Pingree Hill.