Fern Lake evacuees to return home Friday

All Fern Lake Fire evacuations in Estes Park are set to be lifted this morning, Friday, Dec. 7, according to the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office. The last group of displaced residents, those in the Highway 66 area south of Aspen Brook Drive, will be allowed to return home beginning at 9 a.m.

Only residents and business owners with identification will be allowed into this area until noon, when the area will be open to the public.

The area will remain on pre-evacuation status until Saturday and residents should be prepared to leave immediately, if conditions worsen.

Containment of the Fern Lake Fire increased to 45 percent on Thursday, as crews continued to secure the southern perimeter between Steep Mountain and Moraine Park inside Rocky Mountain National Park. The fire now covers 3,492 acres, and 569 personnel are on scene. The cost to fight the Fern Lake Fire, which has been burning since Oct. 9, is now estimated at $4.8 million.

Fire managers say smoke and possibly open flames from spot fires will be visible for an extended period. This smoke comes from well within the burned area and poses no threat of escape from the containment lines.

Highway 36 to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Rocky Mountain National Park is now open. The visitor center is open, although the east side of the park, accessed from the Beaver Meadows and Fall River entrances, remains closed. Fall River Visitor Center has returned to its normal winter weekend hours.

The Town of Estes Park is unaffected by the fire, with all businesses operating at normal seasonal hours.

For more information on Rocky Mountain National Park, call 970-586-1206. Information on the Fern Lake Fire is available at www.inciweb.org, www.larimer.org, and www.nps.gov/romo and on Twitter @inciweb, @larimersheriff, @RMNPofficial and #FernLakeFire.

The public information line — 970-577-3716 — will remain in operation until noon Friday. After that time, call 970-586-2333, ext. 473 or ext. 474. Lines will be staffed daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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