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Contact: Kyle Patterson, (970) 586-1363
Lightning in Rocky Mountain National Park this afternoon caused two separate small fires, one on Eagle Cliff and one on Beaver Mountain. Both fires have been contained due to available resources and immediate response by firefighters.
Available resources, location of the fire, and vegetation conditions make the difference in the ability of fire managers to suppress fires quickly. The U.S. Forest Service Northern Colorado helicopter that supported the Spruce Fire was just flying out of the park after completing their last sling load mission bringing supplies out, when firefighters at Upper Beaver Meadows reported smoke and trees burning on Beaver Mountain. Shortly thereafter smoke was spotted on Eagle Cliff.
Rocky Mountain National Park's engine plus two squads of firefighters quickly responded. The Alpine Hotshots, who are based at Rocky and were just returning from an assignment at Grand Canyon National Park, also sent a squad to each fire. Fire managers were able to use water bucket drops from the helicopter with critical ground crews to contain both fires quickly. Vegetation conditions were dry enough to allow for a relatively rapid initial establishment of the lighting-caused fires but wet enough to slow its spread.
The fire on Eagle Cliff was very small with one single tree burning and some ground fire. The fire on Beaver Mountain was contained at roughly 1/4 acre and was actively burning in pine needle litter and downed logs. Both locations were in steep terrain and firefighters reached both areas in less than an hour.
Estes Valley Fire Protection District provided critical support during the early development of these two fires, as contingency, should another fire be discovered or structures threatened. It is unusual to have two simultaneous lightning-caused fires at Rocky Mountain National Park. Fortunately resources were immediately available to respond.