Strong winds overnight pushed the Fern Lake Fire to Moraine Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, and evacuations have been ordered in Estes Park.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office has ordered evacuation of the area bounded by:
• Highway 66 and all adjacent streets, including the YMCA
• High Drive and all adjacent streets
• Marys Lake Road up to Moraine Avenue to Marys Lake on the west side.
The park housing area as well as park headquarters and Beaver Meadows Visitor Center are in the evacuation area. Moraine Park Campground was evacuated at 1:50 a.m.
Evacuees should meet at Estes Park High School at 1600 Manford Ave. in Estes Park. Large animals may be taken to the Stanley Park Fairgrounds, 1209 Manford Ave.
The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park is closed until further notice. Trail closures include Fern Lake Road beyond the winter parking lot, Fern Lake Trail all the way to Lake Helene (by The Pool, Fern Falls, Fern Lake, Odessa Lake to Helene), the Cub Lake Trail from the trailhead to The Pool and the Mill Creek Trail from the Mill Creek Basin campsites to the Cub Lake Trail. Trails are posted and physically closed. Visitors who ignore trail closures will be issued a citation.
The Fern Lake Fire has been burning since Oct. 9 in extremely difficult terrain covered with a high percentage of beetle-killed trees. It is now 1,515 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service, with the growth primarily on the west and southwest side of the fire in Forest Canyon near the confluence of Forest and Spruce canyons. About 60 personnel are now assigned to the fire, which is 40 percent contained. As of 4 a.m. Dec. 1, the fire had not crossed Bear Lake Road.
Firefighters were pulled off the front lines yesterday at about 3 p.m. and helicopters grounded due to winds gusting up to 75 miles per hour. The high wind warning remains in effect until 11 a.m. today.
For more information, call the Larimer County Sheriff’s Emergency Information Line at 970-498-5500 or the National Park info line, 970-586-1381, or go online to inciweb.org/incident/3294.