Officials believe humans caused Rocky Mountain National Park fire |

Officials believe humans caused Rocky Mountain National Park fire

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Grand Lake, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News

The fire that burned 40 acres on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park is deemed to have been “human caused,” and is still under investigation, according to park officials.

The fire, which started in a meadow, burned mostly grass and shrubs and about 2 acres of timber. Called the “Onahu Fire,” it was first spotted near the Onahu Trailhead located 3.5 miles north of the Kawuneeche Visitor Center, which is located just inside the park boundary.

It did not start on the side of the road, according to Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson.

The nearest campground was the Timber Creek campground, which has remained open.

The fire that created heavy smoke in the greater Grand Lake area was 100 percent contained by Sunday evening, according to Rocky Mountain National Park Incident Commander Matt Dutton. At no time were any structures threatened by the fire. Neither were there plans for evacuations, Dutton said.

Both lanes of Trail Ridge Road, which had closed on Saturday due to heavy smoke and standing dead trees that threatened to fall across the road, were repopened by around noon on Sunday. The Onahu Trail and parking area has also been reopened.

Firefighters continue to monitor the area. The fire smoldered all day Sunday and into Monday as firefighters extinguished everything within 25 feet of the fire line.

According to Park officials, the fire did not threaten to advance.

The Roosevelt National Forest “Hot Shot” crew based in Fort Collins and the Hot Shot crew out of Boise, Idaho, aided Rocky Mountain National Park, Granby and Grand Lake fire crews in firefighting efforts. A water-dropping helicopter also aided in suppression efforts on Saturday.

Rocky Mountain National Park always has fire restrictions in place, but due to the high fire danger, additional restrictions are now in effect, according to Park statements released on Sunday.

Fires will only be allowed in designated fire grates. Only petroleum-fueled stoves and grills will be permitted in all designated backcountry campsites. Smoking is prohibited in the Park, except within enclosed vehicles, parking lots or developed areas, such as campgrounds and picnic areas that are cleared of all flammable materials for at least 3 feet in diameter. Fireworks are always prohibited in the Park.

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