September 2, 2015
In the past ten days, Fire Managers and Park Rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park have responded to four illegal, escaped campfires. While all four were suppressed at less than 1/4 acre, each one had the potential to spread and threaten lives and property.
Rocky Mountain National Park always has fire restrictions in place. Campfires are only allowed within designated campfire rings at select locations in the park, including picnic areas and campgrounds.
In the fall of 2012, the Fern Lake Fire started from an illegal campfire. This fire burned over 3,000 acres, caused an evacuation of a portion of Estes Park and cost more than 6 million dollars to suppress.
We have been fortunate to have experienced a relatively quiet wildfire season compared to other parts of the country. However, the extra grasses and thick vegetation from the spring and summer rains are drying out and fire danger continues to rise as we enter September. Combined with normal fall wind events, we still have the potential for fast moving, large fire events.