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Fire burns through 11 square miles of Rocky Mountain National Park

by John Meyer, Denver Post |

The Cameron Peak Fire burned approximately 11 square miles of Rocky Mountain National Park at its remote northern edge since it entered on Saturday, officials said Thursday in their first detailed description of the fire’s extent.

The total area of the fire, which was first reported Aug. 13, had reached 102,596 acres Thursday morning, according to the official daily news bulletin from the firefight command center. Of that, 7,050 acres are in the Cascade Creek, Hague Creek and Mummy Pass Creek areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, “in steep, thick, beetle-killed forests with significant standing dead trees as well as dead and down fuels,” according to a park news release.

The closure of Trail Ridge Road, first enforced on Sunday because of heavy smoke and poor visibility caused by the fire, remains in effect because of Tuesday’s snowstorm, which left wind-blown drifts of 5-6 feet on the high alpine roadway.

The snowstorm has helped the firefighting effort, officials said.

“The snow has made an impact on the fire with some places not holding much heat,” according to the daily fire report. “However, larger fuels are still holding heat due to their density. The fire will become active as the days begin to warm, the winds increase, and the humidity drops later this week and smoke will be increasingly more visible.”

Park officials said they didn’t know when Trail Ridge Road will reopen.