Fern Lake Fire lines holding, firefighters hopeful as evacuations in Estes Park area remain in place

Weather in RMNP area appears to be cooperating

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. - The lines around the Fern Lake Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park appears to be holding in spite of heavy winds, but no evacuations have yet been lifted,  fire officials said Monday.

The perimeter remains the same as it was last night and the evacuation zones and pre-evacuation zones are unchanged, said Nick Christensen with the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

"Things are looking good right now but time will tell," Christensen said during a Monday morning briefing.  He said that's due to "weather that cooperated last night or at least wasn't as bad as we thought ... but we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day."

Winds were measured at 60mph Sunday night, but instead of growing, the fire blew back on itself, fire officials said.

The fire, which started on Oct. 9 but exploded over the weekend, was last estimated at 4,400 acres and at 20 percent containment. It is still contained inside the park.

Several hundred people remain evacuated and several hundred others have been ordered to prepare to evacuate.

The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said emergency notifications were sent to 681 phone lines and between 1,100 and 2,000 phone lines were contacted for pre-evacuations.

Calm winds and more favorable weather conditions are expected Monday.

Temperatures will be in the mid-30s to low-40s  and wind gusts in the area will be around 36 mph, with sustained winds in the teens, said 24/7 Weather forecaster Dayle Cedars.

Lower winds will allow for air support from an air tanker and several helitankers.

Approximately 250 personnel are currently working on the fire and more resources are on the way. Approximately 150 firefighters and 19 engines worked on the Fern Lake Fire overnight.

No injuries have been reported. Only one private cabin in Moraine Park, within the park, was burned.

This steep rocky area hasn't burned for centuries, making it dangerous and difficult for hand crews to get in the fire zone and build lines.

"Fire researchers have determined it hasn't burned in almost 1,000 years so there's a lot of dead and downed trees, timber-laden ...   If you ever tried to walk through an area with a lot of dead fall in it, and heavy timber,   you can't hardly even walk through there. In those cases, you can't put firefighters on the ground, because if they were to get hurt, you can't evacuate them safely. There are so many beetle-kill trees that fall, that just randomly fall -- you know the silent killer. It's just not safe to put firefighters there.  If we say our No. 1 priority is firefighter and public safety, we need to back that up with our actions," said Traci Weaver, with the National Forest Service.

Spot fires continue to burn in the Steep Mountain area and crews continue working to keep it from moving further to the south. Structure protection crews are still stationed along Bear Lake Road to try to keep the fire within the park.

The priorities of fire managers continue to be firefighter and public safety, incident stabilization and control of the fire perimeter.

Smoke from the fire has been impacting the area,  especially during the evening hours.

The evacuation areas have been unchanged since Saturday. Extreme winds caused the fire to double in size early Saturday morning.

Conditions in the area have been extremely dry. The fire was started by an illegal campfire.

Residents who need updates on the fire can go to inciweb.org or call 970-577-3716.

Print this article Back to Top