Strong winds intensify Fern Lake Fire, more than 1,000 evacuations ordered
ESTES PARK, Colo. –The Fern Lake Fire doubled in size Saturday from 1,515 acres to 3,584 acres, according to officials who remain “cautiously optimistic.”
The fire that continues to burn in Rocky Mountain National Park is still 40 percent contained. There have not been any injuries reported.
The sheriff’s department said over 1,100 emergency notifications were sent out to residents living near Estes Park Saturday.
Officials sent out mandatory evacuation notices after strong winds intensified the Fern Lake Fire burning in Larimer County Friday night.
The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office ordered residents to evacuate in the area of western Estes Park after the fire broke out around 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
According to an information officer with the Fern Lake Fire, 75 mph wind gusts fueled fire activity, spreading the flames to the Moraine Park Campground.
Traci Weaver, a fire information officer said evacuations are still in effect for the Highway 66 corridor and all adjacent streets including the YMCA.
Residents of High Drive and the adjacent streets have been notified that they are now on pre-evacuation notice, and only residents in this area may return home, according to Weaver.
Residents who evacuated earlier today from the west side of Mary’s Lake Road and all adjacent streets are also now on pre-evacuation notices and are allowed to return home. Access to the neighborhood is unrestricted, according to Weaver.
Weaver reiterated that pre-evacuation means that residents in these areas should be prepared to evacuate at any moment.
According to John Schultz with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, evacuees should meet at Estes Park High School at 1600 Manford Avenue in Estes Park. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are staffing the evacuation center, and all public events at the Estes Park High School have been canceled for Saturday, including the Oratory Performance.
Large animals should be taken to the Stanley Park Fairgrounds 1209 Manford Avenue.
Weaver said strong winds pushed the Fern Lake Fire to Moraine Park Saturday, but as of 4 a.m., the fire had not crossed Bear Lake Road, and fire crews are working to make sure that doesn’t happen.
People in the Moraine Park campground were evacuated at 1:50 a.m., Weaver said.
There are reports that one cabin was lost in the fire.
Weaver said a Type I Incident Management team, hot shot crews, two additional type I helicopters and additional engines have all been ordered to help fight the fire.
At least 60 firefighters were battling the flames overnight, and several more firefighters arrived to help control the fire Saturday. An information officer with the Fern Lake Fire said two heavy air tankers arrived on the scene, and officials were determining whether the forceful winds will allow them to fly.
The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park is closed until further notice, however the Fall River Visitor Center and the Town of Estes Park remain open.
The cause of the fire that started on October 9 is still under investigation.
Visit InciWeb for the latest updates on the Fern Lake Fire.
Information will also be posted to Twitter from Inciweb or http://twitter.com/inciweb.
A community meeting about the fire will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Estes Park’s Town Hall at 170 MacGregor Ave. The meeting is an opportunity for residents who are not evacuees to hear updates and ask questions of the managing agencies, according to Weaver.
Those who have been affected by the fire should call (970) 577-3716 for recorded information about the Fern Lake Fire.