Outdoor

Colorado closes nationwide forests, RMNP amid unprecedented fireplace hazard

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire in Northern Colorado over West Loveland. Photo credit: Chad Claeyssen

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Nearly half a million acres in Colorado are closed to all recreational use due to forest fires across the state. The East Troublesome Fire is the newest mess on the line.

With big fires in the Colorado countryside the East disturbing fire grew an amazing 100,000 acres overnight. Additionally, in a late-season rush, the Cameron Peak, CalWood, and Lefthand Canyon fires continue to burn like nothing else in the state's recent history.

As a result, on October 21, the USDA National Forest Service made the decision to close all National Forest areas in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties. The USFS reports that 442,000 acres are currently affected by forest fires. And that number is likely to increase as the East Troublesome Fire progresses rapidly, which is currently only 5% containment.

Forest fire-related evacuations, closures and refunds for hunters

Fire protection on the front range. October 21, 2020. Fire protection on the front range. October 21, 2020.

Communities, including Estes Park and Grand Lake, have been evacuated across the state. Recreational closings cover the Front Range, including the recently closed Rocky Mountain National Park. In addition, Colorado Fish, Wildlife and Parks provides refunds related to forest fires for hunters with deer and elk brands in affected areas. More than 3,000 firefighters in the wild are working to contain the flames.

Above all, safety has the highest priority for all concerned. And the USFS tries to keep it that way.

"The number of major fires and extreme fire behavior we have seen in our forests this year is historic," said Forest Supervisor Monte Williams. “These temporary closings are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that the risk of a new fire breaking out has decreased.

"I ask all of our residents and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously so that our firefighters can concentrate on the mission of safely suppressing the existing fires."

The full list and map of closings can be found here.

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