Firefighters engage wildfire as it surpasses 5K acres; weekend showing potential for stronger winds |

Firefighters engage wildfire as it surpasses 5K acres; weekend showing potential for stronger winds

Fire crews clear timber on Upper Swamp Park Trail.
Courtesy/U.S. Forest Service

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Middle Fork Fire continues to increase in size, reaching 5,445 acres Thursday.

Most of the fire’s growth has been at the southwest corner of the perimeter, brought on by winds, added fuel and the land’s topography, according to fire officials.

A potential for stronger winds, which could further fuel the fire, is expected Friday and Saturday.

Crews at the scene are employing a full-suppression strategy, which means firefighters will engage the fire when and where their efforts will have the highest probability for success, according to the incident team. A Type 1 helicopter, which was used Wednesday to drop water on the fire, was deployed again Thursday.

The most active burn period is typically in the late afternoon hours, when it is hottest.

Visitors are reminded to avoid the area of the U.S. Forest Service closures. The closure area follows the wilderness boundary on the east and west; on the south, it follows the wilderness boundary, the Continental Divide Trail and Newcomb Creek Trail; and on the north, it follows Lost Ranger Trail, the Continental Divide Trail south to Lost Ranger Peak, west to The Dome and down to the North Fork drainage.

The fire is burning in Routt National Forest in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, about 10 miles north of Steamboat Springs. It was first reported Sept. 6, and its cause has been attributed to lightning.

To reach Bryce Martin, call 970-871-4206 or email

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