Middle Fork Fire reaches 60% containment as control transitions back to Routt National Forest
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Middle Fork Fire has seen increased containment over the past few days with the blaze now 60% contained. This has led to a transition of leadership with external crews turning control of the fire back to local authorities on Saturday morning.
Currently, the fire is being managed by a Type 3 incident team, which involves firefighters from around the country coming in to fight the fire. Starting Saturday, the fire will be back in control of the Routt National Forest.
“As a situation gets back to the point where (Routt National Forest) can manage it internally, the team that comes in from outside the area is demobilized and either moved on to another fire or sent back home,” said Dean Hazen, spokesperson for the fire. “That is a good sign.”
Since the beginning of September, the fire has burned 20,433 acres to the north of Steamboat Springs, but growth has slowed in recent weeks. Much of the progress containing the fire is due to last weekend’s snowfall.
“It actually helped us out quite a bit. We had some fire line in place, but we were not confident enough to call it contained at that point,” Hazen said.
The increase in containment has been on the east side of the fire. There is still fire activity in the fire’s northwest corner with about 12 areas that are still smoking.
Firefighters are still in place monitoring that portion of the fire, but the rugged terrain has complicated these efforts.
While some of the snow has melted off, Hazen said most of the fire area is still blanketed in snow. With warmer and drier weather this week more of that snow is expected to melt, which could lead to more fire activity.
Warm and sunny days are expected throughout the weekend and next week with temperatures around average for this time of year.
“We’ve got a nice whole week coming up,” said Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who runs the forecasting website snowalarm.com.
A quick-moving storm will graze the area Saturday bringing cooler temperatures in the upper 40s, but Weissbluth said it will not bring any precipitation and may not even bring clouds to the area.
“It is going to be dry,” Weissbluth said about the evening on Halloween. “It is just going to cool down rapidly when the sun goes down, but everybody is used to that this time of year.”
Things should warm up Sunday, and temperatures will likely get into the 60s Monday. The nice weather will continue through most of the workweek, and Weissbluth suggested that folks enjoy it while it lasts.
“We do have a storm coming in,” Weissbluth said. “It is kind of tough to get a good handle on it a week in advance, but it does look like we have a major change in the weather sometime next weekend or soon after. And that looks to be cold and snowy.”
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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