High winds a big concern at Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park

No evacuation orders lifted

ESTES PARK, Colo. - With high winds forecasted again, approximately 150 firefighters and 19 engines will be fighting the Fern Lake Fire overnight.

The fire continues to remain within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Spot fires continue to burn in the Steep Mountain area and crews are working diligently to keep it from moving further to the south. Structure protection crews will be stationed along Bear Lake Road to try to keep the fire within the park. Crews have made good progress in the Moraine Park area and will prepare for back burning operations and creating a fuel break on the south lateral moraine to help protect the area from further spot fires to the south.

Sunday night's weather forecast mirrors Friday night's weather, with strong winds gusting to 60 to 70 mph. The fire more than doubled in size and spread approximately 3 miles in 35 minutes during the early morning hours of Dec. 1. The fire is 20 percent contained at this time.

 Winds are forecast to calm in the early morning hours Monday and may allow for the use of air support in firefighting.

The priorities of fire managers continue to be firefighter and public safety, incident stabilization and control of the fire perimeter to keep it from spreading beyond the park boundaries so residents may be allowed to re-enter when it is safe for them to do so. Wind forecasts for Sunday night mean that residents should be prepared for expanded evacuation areas and pre-evacuation areas.

Smoke from the fire has been impacting the area especially during the evening hours. Approximately 200 personnel are working on the fire and more resources are on the way. Crews will monitor the fire throughout the night. No injuries have been reported. Only one private cabin is confirmed lost in Moraine Park, within Rocky Mountain National Park.

A Type I Incident Management Team assumed responsibility for Fern Lake Fire management Sunday. 

Spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain National Park Traci Weaver told 7NEWS on Sunday that crews are working hard to make sure there isn't a repeat of Friday night as wind conditions worsen Sunday.

Meanwhile, 1,100 calls have been made to evacuate or pre-evacuate families in the area. Kathleen Anderson had to leave her home at 3:30 Saturday morning but was able to return just seven hours later. On Sunday, her car was still packed with items for her dog in case they get a call to leave again.

"We're planning on being gone. When they call us we'll leave right away. Our cars are packed, they've been packed since Friday night," Anderson said. "You have to do, what you have to do. That's the challenge of living in an area that's forested."

Diane Shriver lives down the road from the YMCA in Estes Park. She hasn't been able to return home since early Saturday morning.

"When you go out of the house, you know you may come back to nothing, so we took what we could."

Shriver said they packed pictures, their records and three days' worth of clothing. She said Saturday morning when she got the call to leave, the wind was howling.

"I could see the red in the sky, and the winds were horrible," Shriver said. "You just know it's all out of our control and the people who are working the fires and doing coordination are doing their best to stay on top of it."

The fire flared up early Saturday, pushed by 75 mph winds, throwing embers a mile in front of the fire and running 3 miles in 35 minutes.

It was mapped at 3,584 acres Saturday, more than double the 1,515 acres mapped earlier.

Fire crews were able to stop the fire from crossing Bear Lake Road Saturday. One personal cabin has been lost in the fire.

Local residents should sign up for emergency notifications at www.leta911.org.


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