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Middle Fork Fire Fact Sheet 9/20/2020
Today’s Situation: Under gusty southwest winds yesterday, fire growth was focused in heavy timber on the northwest fire perimeter, pressing toward an old burn scar to the north. Helicopters worked this area, keeping fire intensity in check. Slight rain last night and increased humidity should help temper fire behavior today, through firefighters are cautious of continued gusty winds. A multi-mission aircraft flight is scheduled for today to obtain updated acreage and mapping for tomorrow. Incident managers have identified areas of lighter fuels, meadows, and rocky terrain to the west, northwest, and south of the fire. Crews aim to take advantage of these types of natural features that offer a higher probability of successful containment. Old burn scars to the north and the Continental Divide to the east offer significant natural barriers to limit fire spread in those directions. Firefighters’ objective is to fully contain the Middle Fork Fire, while keeping public and firefighter safety as the highest priority. The fire’s location, heavy fuels, and hazardous conditions limit options for direct attack.
Weather: Mostly sunny, with highs in the 50s to lower 60s and higher relative humidity at 24 -29%. Down-valley winds of 5 - 10 mph will shift up-valley, 12 - 18 mph by mid-morning, with gusts to 25 mph.
Fire Behavior: Cooler temperatures and higher humidity tend to calm fire behavior; however, gusty winds can cause flare-ups and toss burning embers into unburned fuels. Crews will be watchful for any changes and new fire activity, keeping helicopters ready for action when weather allows them to fly. The Incident Management Team expects this full suppression fire to burn until a persistent seasonal change of weather arrives.
Firefighting Resources: Approximately 96 personnel are assigned to the fire, including three helicopters (one Type 1 and two Type 3) and a fixed-wing air attack to help coordinate aerial operations.
Evacuations: There are no evacuation or pre-evacuation orders in effect. If the fire were to reach any pre-identified management action points, it would trigger Routt County Sheriff’s Office to initiate pre-evacuation orders through their reverse-911 system. To sign up for alerts, visit http://routtcountyalerts.com. The county provides tips for wildfire preparedness, including pets and livestock, on their website at http://www.co.routt.co.us/309/Fire-Safety-Tips-for-Rural-Residents.
Forest Closure: Routt National Forest has issued an area closure. The closure boundary follows Mount Zirkel Wilderness boundary on east. On the south it follows Trail 1132 (Newcomb Creek), Trail 1101 (CDNST), the Wilderness boundary, and Trails 1100 (Swamp Park), 1140 (Saddle), 1140.1A (Saddle Cut-off), and 1171 (Red Dirt). On the west it follows the boundary between National Forest and private lands east of Big Creek from Red Dirt Trailhead to Trail 1176 (Roaring Fork) and continues north along the Wilderness boundary. On the north it follows the North Fork Drainage up to The Dome, east to Lost Ranger Peak, CDNST, and Trail 1131 (Lost Ranger). Trails 1131, 1132, 1166, and 1140 are open. Portion of Trails 1100 and 1171 are open where they follow the closure boundary, closed where they enter the closed area. No roads or trailheads are closed.
Closed trails include:
Fire Restrictions: Stage 2 Fire Restrictions are in effect in Routt and Jackson counties, 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/.