ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, Colo. – The Big Meadows Fire continued to grow in size on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park overnight.
As of Thursday morning, the fire had burned nearly 600 acres on the north end of Big Meadows with no containment, according to information from the Incident Command center. It was sparked by lightning on Monday, according to Rocky Mountain National Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson.
Initially the fire just burned 2 to 3 acres in grass, and forest officials considered letting it burn. However, as the fire grew high winds pushed it to a large area of beetle kill trees and the fire quickly grew.
The fire isn’t threatening any structures or communities, as it is burning about five miles north of Grand Lake, and four miles from the Green Mountain Trailhead. It is one of several fires that are currently burning in Colorado.
The fire is moving to the northeast toward Nakai Peak, officials said. The focus is to hold the fire east of Trail Ridge Road along Highway 34, west of the Continental Divide, and north of Tonahutu Creek.
Weather conditions improved slightly on Wednesday, with winds dying down to around eight to 12 mph, and a slight chance of thunderstorms around 2 p.m. Winds gusts reached up to 40 mph Tuesday, which fueled the fire’s growth.
A Boise Smokejumper Type III Team has taken over management of the fire, and a Type II team has been ordered to fight the fire. Fire managers have also ordered additional air and ground resources including three additional helicopters and five additional Type I crews. A Craig hotshot Type I crew arrived in the area Tuesday afternoon.
As additional resources arrive, 130 personnel were expected to be fighting the fire Wednesday night.
Due to other fires in Colorado, as well as in other states, affecting many homes and other structures, resources are being spread across the nation.
Campgrounds are being evacuated and two hikers were removed from the area via helicopter, according to the fire incident information system InciWeb.
Currently, there are seven trails that are temporarily closed in the area – the Onahu Trail, the Green Mountain Trail, the lower Tonahutu Trail, the Tonahutu Spur Trail, the Grand Lake Lodge Spur Trail, the Timber Lake Trail and the trail which branches toward Mount Ida from Milner Pass.
All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are our neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park.
There has been a fire information line established at (970) 586-1381 for updated information on the Big Meadows Fire.
The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported the fire is burning in beetle kill trees in the Colorado River headwaters. The area is critical to Fort Collins because it’s home to Granby and other Colorado-Big Thompson Project reservoirs. If it were to move south, it could endanger the water reservoirs.AlertMe