Smoke from Middle Fork Fire blows into Steamboat as fire reaches nearly 9K acres

A smoldering log on the fire line at the Middle Fork Fire on Saturday.
Courtesy/U.S. Forest Service

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Middle Fork Fire burning north of Steamboat Springs in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness area has grown almost 3,000 acres in the last two weeks. Its size was last reported at 8,720 acres Sunday morning.

The fire is burning in relatively isolated patches along the perimeter where there is single and small group tree torching. Smoke from the fire has blown into Steamboat on Sunday due to shifting winds.

Temperatures are expected to be above-normal throughout the extended forecast, with conditions Sunday reaching borderline critical for fire activity. Wind gusts Monday morning are expected to reach 20 mph.

Personnel at the fire now total 87, including four helicopters — two Type 1 and two Type 3 — as well as fixed-wing air attack to help coordinate aerial operations.

The helicopters are attempting to keep fire growth controlled by using bucket drops for incidents of small tree group torching.

Portions of the Routt County National Forest are closed, including Mount Zirkel Wilderness boundary on the east side, the south side on Newcomb Creek Trail, Continental Divide Trail, the wilderness boundary and Swamp Park Trail, Saddle Trail, Saddle Cut-off and Red Dirt Trail. The west side between National Forest and private lands east of Big Creek from Red Dirt Trailhead to Roaring Fork Trail and the north side along the wilderness boundary. The North Fork Drainage up to The Dome, east to Lost Ranger Peak, Continental Divide Trail and Lost Ranger Trail are also closed. No roads or trailheads are closed.

Trail closures
  • About 10 miles of CDNST from 1132 to 1131
  • 1130 Rainbow Lake
  • 1179 Roxy Ann Lake
  • 1099 Ditch Creek
  • 1100 and 1100.4A Swamp Park (within Wilderness Area only)
  • 1118 Elk Park
  • 1168 Luna Lake
  • 1168.1 Fish Hawk Lake
  • 1170 Chilton
  • 1182 Crags
  • 1184 Big Creek Lake
  • 1171 Red Dirt past Trail 1140 intersection

(Source: Middle Fork Fire Incident Management Team)

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

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