Sunday snow brings largest containment yet to Middle Fork Fire |

Sunday snow brings largest containment yet to Middle Fork Fire

Columns of smoke rise from the Middle Fork Fire north of Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — After Routt County received about 8 inches of snow Sunday, the Middle Fork Fire is now around 10% to 15% contained, according to U.S. Forest Service spokesman Dean Hazen.

Due to the remote nature of the fire and the heavy snowfall in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, crews were not at the fire Monday and may not be there Tuesday depending on how much, if any, of the snow melts, Hazen said.

“We’re sitting tight right now and just figuring out what we can do safely,” he said. “We already have a hard time getting crews into the fire, and the snow has just made that worse.”

Though the fire is still burning at about 20,433 acres, Hazen said the longer the snow lasts the better the chance for fire containment, as snow and cold fronts help prevent the fire from spreading further.

Fire behavior Monday was described as minimal due to the cold temperatures and snow cover, with creeping, smoldering and backing fire toward the northeast, northwest and southeast still possible.

Approximately 91 personnel are assigned to the fire, including two helicopters, approximately 40 firefighters and one engine.

There are no evacuation or pre-evacuation orders in effect for Routt County.

Pre-evacuations are in place in Jackson County for Rainbow Lakes, Aqua Fria and the Teal and Tiago Lake areas, but not for the Rainbow Lakes residential community. The notification from Jackson County was primarily aimed at hunters and ranchers with cattle in those areas.

Routt County is in Stage 2 fire restrictions, meaning anyone using outside spark of any kind will be issued a citation.

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