Sunday snow, rain slightly reduces Middle Fork Fire behavior

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Middle Fork Fire behavior was slowed Monday following Sunday’s precipitation. It now stands at 17,182 acres.

The U.S. Forest Service said the fire’s reduction behavior is due to Sunday’s rain and snow, though it is expected to grow and spread again, according to a daily report from the Forest Service.

Temperatures are expected to warm up as the week goes on, peaking at 67 degrees Tuesday, and Forest Service members expect higher temperatures, combined with 35 to 40 mph winds Monday, to spread the fire.

Smoke is expected to return to the Steamboat Springs area by mid-week, and the fire is expected to spread to the northeast, northwest and southeast.

Approximately 161 personnel are assigned to the fire, including five helicopters — three Type 1, one type 2 and one Type 3 — two single engine airtankers and a fixed-wing air attack to help coordinate aerial operations.

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There are currently no evacuation or pre-evacuation warnings in Routt County, though Jackson County has issued pre-evacuations along Rainbow Lakes, Aqua Fria, as well as Teal and Tiago Lakes areas. These pre-evacuations are primarily for hunters and ranchers in those areas.

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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