The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service’s Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests has announced a temporary closure of all National Forest land in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer Counties which started Wednesday, October 21 at 12 am due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions.
The new starts and growth of wildfires throughout the Front Range in Northern Colorado, including Cameron Peak, CalWood, and Lefthand Canyon fires, have led to this decision. This decision will be re-evaluated every day as conditions continue to change.
The counties impacted are currently experiencing severe drought, shallow fuel moisture conditions, high occurrence of human-caused wildfires, limited capacity for a response due to multiple wildfires, and persistent fire-danger weather conditions with no sudden relief in sight. According to the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center, approximately 442,000 acres of land have been affected by the wildfires across north-central Colorado and Southern Wyoming as of Tuesday, October 20.
“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing on our Forests this year is historic,” said Forest Supervisor Monte Williams. “These temporary closures 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 new fire starts has decreased,” Monte said.
The temporary closures are in place to support the suppression of the three fires and prevent the potential for new fire starts impacting the resources available for existing fires. A total of 3,000 firefighters and fire support personnel are assigned to wildfire operations within the region.
The orders restrict access to all except for emergency personnel and those with a permit authorizing them within the closure areas. Areas that are not included in this closure order have existing fire restrictions in a place like campfire bans due to high and extreme fire danger levels.
“I ask all of our local residents and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing the existing fires,” said Monte.
For more information regarding a consolidated closure order and fire restrictions map, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/FSEPRD831617.pdf