Middle Fork Fire reaches over 6K acres | SteamboatToday.com

Middle Fork Fire reaches over 6K acres

Smoke seen from a helicopter of the Middle Fork Fire on Sept. 18.
Courtesy/U.S. Forest Service

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Warm temperatures, continued dry conditions and wind during the weekend caused the Middle Fork Fire to grow to 6,187 acres as of Monday.

The growth has mostly been along the fire’s western perimeter, according to the fire’s Type III incident team. It has been backing down the Middle Fork drainage and ridges to its north and south.

Three helicopters, including one Type 1 and two Type 3, have been working to keep the fire’s intensity in check when flare-ups occur. A fixed-wing aircraft is also helping to coordinate aerial operations.

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 total of 96 personnel have been assigned to the fire.

Lighter fuels, meadows and rocky terrain have been identified to the west, northwest and south of the Middle Fork Fire, which will aid in the fire’s containment, according to incident managers.

With the onset of fall Tuesday, shorter days and cooler temperatures tend to calm fire behavior, according to fire officials. It’s also helped by days of higher humidity. But days of gusty winds can cause flare-ups and move around burning embers.

The incident management team expects the fire to burn until a persistent seasonal change of weather arrives.

Courtesy/U.S. Forest Service

No evacuation or pre-evacuation orders are in effect. To sign up for emergency notifications from Routt County, visit routtcountyalerts.com. The fire would first need to reach any pre-determined action point to trigger evacuation orders.

Visitors are reminded to avoid the area of 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 bmartin@SteamboatPilot.com.

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