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Middle Fork Fire Fact Sheet 9/16/2020
Today’s Situation: Smoke from Middle Fork Fire is visible rising from the fire area this morning, as a heavy haze from West Coast fires envelopes the region. Most of the recent fire growth has been near the heel of the fire along the west side, as the fire slowly backs downslope and upwind in heavy timber. Crews have been working hard clearing thousands of trees that have fallen across roads and trails throughout the area that are used by firefighters and the public. Firefighters are bucking and limbing blowdown, cutting standing dead trees, and piling dead fuels around Rainbow Lakes Trailhead to reduce hazardous fuels. Firefighters on the ground near the fire are monitoring and reporting fire activity and taking on-site weather readings. Please avoid the closed area within the Mount Zirkel Wilderness (see Forest Closure below,) allowing firefighters to focus on fire operations, rather than visitor management.
Fire Behavior: The fire has been producing some noticeable smoke since a return to warm, sunny weather, especially in the mid- to late afternoon hours. The fire continues creeping through heavy dead and down timber, with single tree torching and group tree torching along the fire perimeter. The fire is slowly backing to the west in isolated areas. An old burn scar to the north and the Continental Divide to the east are natural barriers that limit the fire’s ability to spread in those directions. Prevailing winds tend to push the fire toward those natural barriers. The Incident Management Team expects the fire to burn until a persistent seasonal change of weather arrives.
Weather: Highs today are predicted to be slightly cooler, in the 60s to 70s with southwest winds of 4 - 8 mph gusting to 20 mph along higher ridges after 1:00 p.m. Relative humidity continues its fall to 10 – 15% today.
Fuels and terrain: Middle Fork Fire is burning in heavy timber with a large percentage of standing and down dead trees over steep, rugged, high-elevation terrain.
Firefighting Resources: Approximately 95 personnel are assigned to the fire, including three helicopters (1-Type 1 and 2-Type 3).
Forest Closure: A Routt National Forest closure is in effect within the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area – closure area follows Wilderness boundary on east and west; on the south it follows the Wilderness boundary, Trail 1101 (CDNST) and Trail 1132 (Newcomb Creek); and on the north it follows Trail 1131 (Lost Ranger), CDNST south to Lost Ranger Peak, west to The Dome, and down the North Fork drainage. Trails 1131 and 1132 are open. No roads or trailheads are closed.
Closed trails include:
Fire Restrictions: Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in effect in Routt County, on all of the Routt National Forest, and across much of Northwest Colorado.
Information for the Middle Fork Fire in the Routt National Forest, north of Steamboat Springs, can be found on Twitter, @FS_MBRTB and InciWeb https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7153/.