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Fern Lake Fire Still Smoldering Despite Winter Storm [Updated]

Bjorn Skovlin

This week's blast of winter weather is helping tamp down the Fern Lake Fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park, although fire officials aren’t ready to declare it out just yet.

Update: [12/21 11:45 am] All trail and area closures related to the Fern Lake Fire have been lifted, according to Rocky Mountain National Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson. She says snow has reduced the fire's potential to spread, although park visitors still should be aware of potential hazards - including falling trees, unstable slopes, and bridges or trail structures that are damaged.

The lower end of the fire near Estes Park received 14 inches of snow from this week’s storm, and more than two feet fell on the upper portion of the fire near Bear Lake.

Rocky Mountain National Park spokesperson Larry Frederick says the snow has helped -- to a certain extent.

"We no longer have people who are actively on the fire line or monitoring the fire. But it’s possible we could still see some puffs of smoke, and maybe even a few flames from time to time, until we get an extended period of cold and more snow that could really put a damper on this and allow us to declare the fire out."

Frederick says that declaration is still some time away, adding that more winter weather would help.

"We’ll see what happens after this snowstorm, and whether or not this storm is followed by others that maintain the cold temperatures and the snow depth that we need. If this were to melt off, then we could be back to seeing a more active fire, we believe."

The Fern Lake Fire is 88 percent contained. It has burned 3,498 acres and destroyed one cabin. The cause is being investigated, though officials believe it was started by an illegal backcountry campfire.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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