Conditions Thursday seemed to favor firefighters as they worked to contain a wildfire in the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park.
While the Big Meadows Fire located about 5 miles north of Grand Lake on the west side of the park had been described as 400 acres in size earlier this week, more accurate mapping with thermal imagery overnight has reduced that to 333 acres, park officials said Thursday.
The fire, three miles east of Trail Ridge Road, was sparked by lightning and was burning in mixed conifer forest types with a component of beetle-killed lodgepole pine. Park officials said there had been little significant fire activity in the last 24 hours, with "activity ... limited to hot-spots of downed fuels with isolated tree torching."
More than 130 firefighters were on the scene and had support from ten fire engines, an ‘air attack’ small plane used for reconnaissance, three light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter, said park spokeswoman Kyle Patterson.
Firefighers Thursday were working on both the northwest and southern flanks of the fire. Those on the southern flank were installing firehose lays to support efforts to strengthen containment along Tonahutu Creek. The management objective was to hold the fire east of Trail Ridge Road (Highway 34), west of the Continental Divide, and north of Tonahutu Creek.
Thursday's forecast called for afternoon winds between 12-18 mph with gusts to 30 mph and a chance of thunderstorms after 2 p.m.
The fire posed no imminent threat to any communities or structures and Rocky Mountain National Park remains open. However, to ensure public and fire-fighter safety, seven trails were 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 that 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.
The park has set up a recorded Fire Information Line at (970) 586-1381 which will be updated when new information on the Big Meadows Fire is available.