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High winds deter helicopter assistance on Fern Lake Fire

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Date: October 24, 2012
Contact: Patricia Bean, 970-586-1363

High winds deter helicopter assistance on Fern Lake Fire

 Estes Park, CO - After one and half water drops on the Fern Lake Fire on Tuesday morning high winds grounded air support for the day. Fire managers were later forced to release the Type 1 Helicopter due to weather concerns.

High winds and low humidity Tuesday afternoon caused the fire to spot along the fire's south perimeter near the confluence of Big Thompson River and Canyon Creek. Firefighters hiked into the area and were able to put out the largest of these small fires. Those remaining are in steep, rocky terrain along the river where safety of the firefighters is compromised. Firefighters will continue to monitor the area and will take action should fire activity increase.

 Last night's infrared flight mapped the fire at 1030 acres with containment decreasing to 17% due to the fire growth on its western perimeter toward the center of the park. Fire managers are anticipating snow and rain on the fire area over the next few days will decrease fire activity but cautioned the fire is not likely to be completely extinguished by the predicted precipitation. Mike Lewelling, Fire Management Officer for Rocky Mountain National Park stated, "Fuels in Forest Canyon area are so thick and dense that one snow is not likely to put it out. We are in this for the long haul and it will take a series of snow events to put this fire out".

Firefighters continue to closely monitor fire behavior and weather. There is a contingency fire line in place so that fire managers are prepared to take quick action to ensure firefighter and visitor safety and to keep the fire within park boundaries. The fire is being managed with a full suppression strategy.

The Moraine Park Campground is open. A reduced area closure is still in effect. This closure will be in effect for the duration of the Fern Lake Fire. Please obey all closure notices. Violating the terms of these fire restrictions is subject to criminal prosecution. Cub Lake Trail, Fern Lake Trail, and Fern Lake access road (beyond the winter parking) are closed. All access to the Ute Trail is closed, including from Upper Beaver Meadows. Lower Odessa Gorge (north of Odessa Lake) is closed to all use. You will not be able to hike north of Odessa Lake. Other trails leading into the fire area are closed and are posted. 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Additional information about this fire can be found at www.inciweb.org, or by calling (970) 586-1381.

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