Sunday snow expected to temporarily stunt Middle Fork Fire |

Sunday snow expected to temporarily stunt Middle Fork Fire

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Middle Fork Fire grew to 17,183 acres Sunday, a 641-acre jump from Saturday. The growth is mainly along the northwest front, with minor growth in the west and south due to winds.

The weather forecast calls for 0.2 inches of precipitation over the fire area with 1 to 4 inches of snow possible at higher elevations to the east.

“It will certainly help,” said Aaron Voos, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service. “Any sort of precipitation and cooler weather is welcomed.”

However, Voos said, the fire has seen mild precipitation and cold fronts in the past and has only been temporarily stunted, so this precipitation will likely not end the fire.

The extended forecast is predicting temperatures to return to the 70s by the end of the week, along with smoke from surrounding wildfires predicted to return to the Steamboat Springs area by mid-week.

Jackson County put out pre-evacuation notices Saturday for a few acres over the Continental Divide, most of which is forest land primarily used by hunters and ranchers. The pre-evacuation includes Rainbow Lakes, Aqua Fria as well as Teal and Tiago lakes.

Routt County has had no pre-evacuation or evacuation notices.

The fire crossed a management action point along the northwest Sunday, prompting expanded closures near the Seedhouse corridor in Steamboat.

Routt National Forest is closed along the Zirkel Wilderness boundary east from Buffalo Pass Trailhead and north to Lost Ranger Trail. On the west, the closure follows the forest boundary from Red Dirt Trailhead north to the North Fork drainage. To the south, the closure follows Red Dirt Trail, Saddle and Saddle Cutoff trails, southeast to Rocky Peak, the intersection of Forest Service Road 314 and Summit Park Trail, southeast to the South Fork Soda Creek Drainage to Buffalo Pass Trailhead. And on the north, the closure follows Lost Ranger Trail west, the Continental Divide Trail south to Lost Ranger Peak west to The Dome and down the North Fork drainage.

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