Lake Dillon firefighters respond to call for assistance
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Colorado’s continued snow drought manifested Friday night in Rocky Mountain National Park, where the Fern Lake Fire flared up in an area that’s usually covered with snow this time of year.
Winds of up to 75 mph pushed the fire to the southwest, where a spot fire ignited in the horseshoe of unburned fuel west of the confluence of Spruce and Forest canyons.
The flare-up resulted in new evacuation orders along Highway 66 and all adjacent streets, including the YMCA, High Drive and all adjacent streets, Marys Lake Road up to Moraine Ave. to Marys Lake on the west side. More than 1, 100 contacts made through this original reverse notification.
According to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher, a total of 583 homes in the Estes Park area were evacuated.
Three Lake Dillon firefighters deployed to the Fern Lake Saturday: Lt. Jonathan Bradley, Lt. Jason Bell and firefighter/medic Mike Miller responded in a Type III engine to the call for assistance from the federal Type I team that took over management of the blaze as it jumped established fire lines and spread into Moraine Park.
The fire started from an illegal campfire in early October and has slowly grown to more than 1,500 acres.
“We’re always glad to help our neighbors like this, and we know we can count on them if we need them,” said Lake Dillon Fire Deputy Chief Jeff Berino. “This fire is pretty late in the season, but it serves as a reminder that our fire danger remains elevated in the high country this time of year, especially with as little snow as we have received.”
The Fern Lake fire was 40 percent contained before the overnight windstorm. It had been managed for resource purposes with a relatively small team of about 60 firefighters before the blowup, but the federal Type I management team — the highest level of overhead — was summonsed to the blaze, and with it put out the call for assistance throughout the region. Also responding were hot shot crews, two Type I helicopters and additional engines.
The federal government will reimburse Lake Dillon Fire for the costs of the team responding to the fire.