Firefighters are said to be making slow, but steady, progress on containing the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park.
As of Friday morning, containment lines had been carved around roughly 30 percent of its 353 acres. Hand crews were to continue to strengthen fire lines along the northwest flank of the fire, and also continue to reinforce fire lines along Tonahutu Creek with the goal of completing hose lays, installing sprinklers, improving and mopping up existing burned areas along the southern flank of the fire.
The fire, 3 miles east of Trail Ridge Road and about 5 miles north of Grand Lake on the west side of the park, was sparked by lightning and was burning in mixed conifer forest types with a component of beetle-killed lodgepole pine.
Firefighting resources on the fire Friday included an initial attack module of eight firefighters, two interagency 20-person Type I hotshot crews, two interagency 20-person Type II handcrews, and five fire engines. Three additional Type I hotshot crews have been ordered and were expected to arrive by day's end.
Available air resources include two ‘air attack’ small planes used for fire reconnaissance, two light helicopters, a medium helicopter, and one large heavy helicopter. A National Guard Blackhawk helicopter was on standby to assist fire operations in the event of a medical emergency.
Little change in the weather was anticipated Friday, with the forecast calling for afternoon winds of 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph. A chance for afternoon thunderstorms was to persist throughout the weekend, but little moisture was expected from these storms.
There remains no imminent threat to any communities or structures; Rocky Mountain National Park remains open.
Seven trails have been 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. Trail closures do affect a section of the Continental Divide Trail that passes through the park.
All major roads and facilities in Rocky Mountain National Park are open as are the neighboring communities of Grand Lake and Estes Park. Visitors to the west side of the park are strongly cautioned to be aware of increased traffic and aircraft associated with the fire.