The Morgan Creek fire exploded in size on Saturday, forcing the closure of a large area in Routt County.
It was estimated to burn about 1,920 acres on Saturday night, up from about 100 on Friday, but has since risen, according to Steamboat Pilot & Today. An updated map and area is expected Monday morning after an aircrew flew over the blaze on Sunday evening.
The blaze has spread through the wilderness of Mount Zirkel towards Floyd Peak and areas already blackened by the fires of Burn Ridge and Middle Fork, fire officials said. Many trails in the area have been closed.
Residents in areas just east and northeast of the wildfire have been urged to prepare for the evacuation. The structures near the fire appear to be four buildings at the Wapiti ranch, Steamboat Pilot & Today reported.
The fire also prompted the US Forest Service’s Routt unit to close a section of the Continental Divide Trail and trails, roads and campgrounds along the Seedhouse Corridor. Several forest roads are also closed around the fire.
About 65 people worked to contain the blaze on Saturday, according to an incident management web page for the blaze. A Wyoming wildfire management team was scheduled to take over fire operations on Sunday morning.
Crews reported extreme fire activity from the blaze, which burns through dead and felled wood, including crowning tracks in which the fire spreads from treetops to treetops and landmarks fires suddenly igniting after the winds blow embers.
Smoke could be seen in the sky several miles from the blaze, which triggered air health advisories in Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties, officials said.
Air health notice EXPANDED to include all of Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties. Smoky sky north from Copper Mountain. #MorganCreekFire_CO #cofire https://t.co/IdEB2C7ws4 https://t.co/o2HSEEeP6S pic.twitter.com/L7EH0zuPH6
– Air pollution from CDPHE (@cdpheapcd) July 10, 2021
The fire was first reported on Friday afternoon just south of Hinman Park Campground, and as Routt County was under Stage I fire restrictions. According to Drew Cosgrove, who works near Of the blaze, the blaze arose after seeing lightning in the area the night before, but the forest service has yet to say what started the blaze.
Morgan Creek fire breaks out in northwest Colorado
Elsewhere in Routt County, a rapid extraction crew arrived at the Muddy Slide fire on Friday to rescue firefighters in emergency situations. Now described as a long-lasting fire, that blaze, which began on June 20, is estimated to be around 50%. He blackened over 4,000 acres.