Fern Lake Update, Saturday, December 8 9 Am
Incident: Fern Lake Wildfire
Fern Lake Fire Update
For Immediate Release: December 8, 2012, 9 a.m.
Public Information: 970-586-2333 (ext 473 or 474)
Media Information: 970-586-2333 (ext.452)
(Information Center open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3,498 acres
Percent Contained: 45
Cause: Under Investigation
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: None
Cost to Date: $5.4 million
Number of Personnel: 504
Crews: 16 (A crew consists of 20 firefighters.)
Water Tenders: 1
Much cooler temperatures with light snow showers again greeted firefighters this morning as fire suppression activities continued. Snow accumulations yesterday averaging 2 inches over the fire will effectively prevent any further spread, although the fire will continue to smolder in heavy fuels. Additional accumulations ranging from 4 to 8 inches are expected today through tomorrow.
Fire Behavior Analyst Rod Moraga made a single statement at this morning's briefing: "I'm fairly confident we're good today."
Crews will hike in to areas along the southwest perimeter this morning to seek opportunities to further improve fire lines. Crews will continue to remove debris created by fire line construction along the northeast perimeter, and remove pumps and fire hose laid out to protect homes in the previously evacuated areas.
If wind and snow create unsafe working conditions, firefighters will leave the fire area and stage in Estes Park, available for a three-minute response.
Crews and equipment are being demobilized as fire suppression objectives are met. Adequate firefighting resources will be retained to continue suppression efforts if fire behavior increases.
Firefighter and public safety remain the top priority while suppressing the fire within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. Smoke and possibly open flames will be visible for an extended period. This smoke comes from well within the burned area and poses no threat of escape from containment lines.
All evacuations have been lifted and all residents have been allowed to return to their homes. Pre-evacuation orders remain in effect today for residents of the Highway 66 area south of Aspen Brook Drive. Residents will receive another emergency notification at approximately 9 a.m. on Sunday lifting that pre-evacuation order.
Estes Park is open to guests and ready for the holidays.
A WILDLAND FIREFIGHTER IN WINTER
Firefighters were asked, "What is it like to be a wildland firefighter high in the Rockies as winter sets in "
From a Southern California hand crew: "This time of year we are usually spending time with our families because we worked away from home all summer, but the call came for this mission. We wanted to answer the call to help out others in need."
From a Montana hand crew:
- "We are usually laid off this time of year. We are happy to have the work to make our families' Christmas better. We are also very happy to answer the call to help out your families to make their Christmas better."
- "It's very different to have the shorter daylight hours. We can't work as hard and as long as we would like to put out this fire."
- "When we were doing burnout operations on this fire we could stay warm. We have to pace ourselves to not stop or sweat too much to not get really cold."
Rocky Mountain National Park officials have opened the park on a limited basis. Visitors may enter the park through Highway 34, the Fall River Entrance, and Highway 36, the Beaver Meadows Entrance. Weather permitting, the road will be open to Many Parks Curve, the normal winter closure point on Trail Ridge Road. Bear Lake Road will remain closed until further notice because of fire operations. Upper Beaver Meadows, Hidden Valley, and trails leading into the area around the Fern Lake Fire remain closed. Beaver Meadows Visitor Center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fall River Visitor Center is open weekends from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For additional information, visit www.nps.gov/romo or call the park Information Office at 970-586-1206 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.
INCIDENT INFORMATION SOURCES
Information on the Fern Lake Fire is available at www.inciweb.org, www.larimer.org, www.nps.gov/romo and on Twitter @inciweb, @larimersheriff, @RMNPofficial and #FernLakeFire. Sign up for emergency notifications at www.leta911.org.