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News Release

#FernLakeFire Update for December 5 at 9:00 p.m.

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Department: Sheriff
Release Date: Dec 5, 2012

Contact Information:

Larimer County Sheriff's Office
John Schulz, Public Information Officer
Issued by Fern Lake Fire Information

 Fern Lake Fire Update

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2012, 9 p.m.
Public Information: 970-577-3716, 
(Joint Information Center Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
Date started: October 9, 2012
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Size: 3,486 acres (Current estimate due to better mapping)
Percent Contained: 40%
Cause: Under Investigation
Structures threatened: 750
Structures lost: 1
Injuries to Date: None
Cost to Date: $4 million
Number of Personnel: 608
Crews: 16 (a crew is 20 firefighters) 
Engines: 45
Water Tenders: 5
Helicopters: 5
A moderate amount of interior burning was visible today in the fire area because of the warmer temperatures and lighter winds.  Heavy fuels continued to be consumed which will cause these islands to burn completely out much sooner.  Infrared flights are showing the heat along the fireline is continuing to dissipate more and more each day.
One area of concern is the "notch" on the west side of Steep Mountain.  This notch along the fireline is a steep canyon which acts like a chimney rapidly pulling fire to the top. There is active fire in this chimney, however crews are allowing this fire to burn out the heavy fuels to the top of the chimney to an area which provides a much safer location for them to engage and extinguish the fire.
Several areas along the fireline from the Mill Creek Trail to the west of Steep Mountain, then east to the junction of the Moraine Park Trail and the Cub Lake Trail have been mopped up to the standards fire managers are trying to achieve to contain the fire in this area.
Air resources were not able to fly after about 9 a.m. due to variable wind conditions.  An additional helicopter arrived to aid in the firefighting effort.  The air tanker resources have been released as the wind conditions have not allowed them to fly for several days.
Because of the return of residents to part of the evacuation area and the reduced threat of fire, 13 engines will be released Thursday as they are no longer required.
The fire remains within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. The top priorities for fire managers remain firefighter and public safety, incident stabilization and control of the fire perimeter to keep it from spreading beyond the park boundaries, so that residents can return when it is safe.  
Upon request of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, a Colorado Army National Guard helicopter and crew are currently on standby to perform rescue operations if needed in response to the Fern Lake fire.
A UH-60 Black Hawk outfitted with a hoist, and its crew of four Soldiers, including a medic, are prepared to provide these capabilities if called upon by the incident management team currently fighting the fire burning in Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Estes Park, Colo. The helicopter and crew is on standby from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., until further notice.
The Colorado National Guard is supporting the Larimer County Sheriff's Department, the Colorado Division of Emergency Management and the incident management team in emergency response authority.
A high-resolution file photo, can be found online at
Air National Guard Capt. Darin Overstreet contact number:  720-250-1053.
Evacuation orders for the Highway 66 area from Highway 36 up to and including Aspen Brook Drive were lifted today, Dec. 5. This area will remain in pre-evacuation notice for the near future.
Officials hope to allow the remaining evacuees in the Highway 66 corridor to return home on Friday morning, Dec. 7. These plans are only tentative and could change based on fire and weather conditions, so no further announcements regarding the possible lifting of evacuation status for this area will be made until Thursday, Dec. 6.      
Highway 36 to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park opened today, as well as the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.  The east side of Rocky Mountain National Park via Beaver Meadows Entrance and Fall River Entrance will remain closed. Fall River Visitor Center returned to its normal winter hours and is closed today. For further information on Rocky Mountain National Park, please call the park's Information Office at 970-586-1206
Also today, Dec. 5, officials lifted the pre-evacuation notices for residents of High Drive and adjacent streets, as well as residents of the Marys Lake Road area from Moraine Avenue and Rock Ridge Road south to Highway 7.
Operating hours at the Fern Lake Fire evacuation center at Mountain View Bible Fellowship are 7 p.m. until all evacuees are able to return home. Meals have been discontinued.
Community/evacuee meetings are scheduled daily at 5 p.m. at Estes Park Town Hall until all evacuees have returned home. The media is invited to attend; public questions will be addressed first, followed by media questions. Additional media briefings are scheduled for 10 a.m. at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center each day based on the incident status, and will be given by a member of the fire management team.
Information on this fire is available at and on Twitter @inciweb, @larimersheriff, @RMNPofficial and #FernLakeFire. Sign up for emergency notifications at  
The public information line is 970-577-3716 until noon on Friday at which time this line will be discontinued.  Beginning Friday at noon, the information center will be relocated to the Incident Command Post (ICP) at the Rocky Mountain Park Inn, at 970-586-2333 ext. 473 or ext. 474. Lines are staffed 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The media information line is 970-577-3718 until Thursday at 10 p.m. Starting Friday morning at 8 a.m. the new media phone line will be at the ICP at 970-586-2333 ext. 452.
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