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Thurs., July 2 Update on Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park

Firefighters continue to monitor and improve control lines on the east, south, and southwest flanks of the Cow Creek Fire. Helicopters are backhauling gear, trash, and supplies from the crews that are camping out near the fireline. Fire activity is occurring in heavy dead fuels on the ground with occasional individual trees torching which will continue to produce smoke. The fire has burned 914 acres and the southern and eastern flanks are 60 percent contained. There are 234 personnel working on the fire.

Visitor facilities at Rocky Mountain National Park are open and operating as usual despite the Cow Creek Fire burning in the wilderness. Though most trails are open, the McGraw Ranch Road, Cow Creek Trail, North Boundary Trail and the Dunraven/North Fork Trail remain closed to the public due to continued fire traffic.

“We appreciate the tremendous support the community of Estes Park has shown the firefighters on the line and our incident management team” said Incident Commander Todd Pechota. “Crews have been working long hours in steep, rugged terrain and sleeping on the mountain each night. Having their work valued by a community gives them a great sense of accomplishment.”

Further information about this fire will be posted on www.inciweb.org.

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The fire near Mount Dickinson in Rocky Mountain National Park has reached approximately 800 acres. Fire managers have better acreage estimates due to better mapping.

Erratic winds continue to drive the fire to the west, north and north east. The fire is still in a remote area of the park. Fire operation efforts will continue to assess conditions and work to contain the fire in the West Creek drainage. Forecasted weather conditions are slightly more favorable today than yesterday. Because of the nature of the fire, no further ground crews will be sent in to the area.

Numerous helicopters and air tankers will assist with today’s efforts. The priority will continue to be defensive fire operations and structure protection for the community of Glen Haven. Rocky Mountain National Park is open
along with most park trails.

Last night, as a precautionary measure, four park rangers hiked the North Fork Drainage of the park to contact registered backcountry campers.

All twenty-four campers, in designated backcountry sites, were contacted and hiked out last night. Yesterday afternoon McGraw Ranch Road closed to the public. This road is a private dirt road that leads to Rocky Mountain National Park land, including McGraw Ranch and the Cow Creek Trailhead.

Because of increased traffic in the area due to firefighting efforts, this narrow
road was closed for safety reasons. Residents along the road are not being asked to
evacuate. Cow Creek Trail and North Boundary Trail are closed. The Dunraven/North
Fork trail is also closed. These trails are being closed as precautionary measures.
Ground crews had to disengage from active firefighting operations yesterday
afternoon due to erratic fire behavior. Yesterday, 10,000 gallons of water and 6
retardant drops were made. A Type 2 Fire Incident team has been requested and is
expected to arrive this evening.

On Wednesday, aerial observation indicated there was a small fire burning one mile
south of Mount Dickinson in Rocky Mountain National Park. The location is roughly
seven miles from the nearest road and is located in heavy timber in a remote area.
It is roughly six miles west of Glen Haven in the West Creek drainage in the North
Fork area of the park. The fire initially began as 3 to 5 acres. Managers expected
the fire to increase yesterday afternoon due to hot, dry temperatures and winds.

On Wednesday, June 23, five airplane loads of retardant were dropped on the fire.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. eight smokejumpers deployed in to the area. There are
currently 36 firefighters on the ground; 8 smokejumpers, 8 crew members from Rocky
Mountain National Park and 20 crew members from the Roosevelt Hotshots with the
United States Forest Service.

The cause of the fire is suspected to be lightening

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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