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Contact: Kyle Patterson, 970-586-1363
Park personnel continue to monitor and evaluate the Cow Creek Fire while always keeping public and firefighter safety a top priority. This fire is in a remote location and all designated trails remain open in Rocky Mountain National Park. Since September 1, the fire has grown approximately 50 acres. The current fire activity has remained in the remote western flank of the Cow Creek Fire at the bottom of the West Creek drainage in an area of heavy fuels. This location places tundra to the north and west of the fire, buffered by the previously burned area to the east.
Because of the weather forecast of continued high winds and low humidity, as well as the number of resources that are committed to the Four Mile Canyon Fire near Boulder, a Type 2 helicopter arrived in the park this morning to support operations with the Cow Creek Fire. A Type 1 Hot Shot Crew from Idaho will be arriving this afternoon. A helicopter from Yellowstone National Park has been in the park since last Saturday. A nine-person fire crew from Bandelier National Monument and crewmembers from Rocky have been working in the fire area since Wednesday. The crews will continue to walk areas in and around the fire to look for any hot spots. If any additional spots are detected outside the eastern flank, the crews will provide direct attack on those spots. Due to the aviation support and the location of the park's helispot, Upper Beaver Meadows Road will be closed today, September 10, through Sunday, September 12, to vehicles. Hikers will still be able to access the road and nearby trails on foot.
In early July, firefighters achieved containment of the northeast, east, and southern portions of the Cow Creek Fire in the remote West Creek area in Rocky Mountain National Park. The immediate threat to the area on the park's eastern boundary was mitigated; however, there was potential for the fire to spread to the west. It was expected that the fire would likely burn through the remainder of the fire season with the potential of smoke being visible until a significant weather event, such as snow this fall, puts the fire out.
On July 4, the three trails that were closed due to fire operations reopened. However, off trail travel on national park lands south of the North Fork of the Big Thompson River, west of the North Boundary Trail, north of Cow Creek, and east of Mummy Mountain and Mount Dunraven continue to be prohibited due to the active fire in the area.
Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem in the park. Fires have not burned in this rugged, remote area of the park for hundreds of years. "Many plants and animals are dependent on fire for their survival. Periodic fire can improve reproduction of plants and improve wildlife habitat. As we learn more about the historic role of wildland fire on public lands, we are also mindful of our duty in the protection of the public and communities," said Vaughn Baker, park superintendent. "Although this fire is miles away from any homes, it serves as a good reminder to all of us who live nearby to take the necessary precautions to protect our homes." More information on preparing for a wildfire can be found at www.firewise.org