Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Butler Jameson via Gazette.

Photo Courtesy of Elizabeth Butler Jameson via Gazette.

There's a new wildfire burning in Colorado and it's in close proximity to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, resulting in a number of evacuations.

Here's what you need to know:

1. The Kruger Rock fire has been growing throughout the day. First reported at about 20 acres, just before 7 AM, the Kruger Rock Fire was estimated at 75 acres around 9:15 AM, then 100 acres at about 1:20 PM, then 115 acres at 3 PM. Throughout the day, there was no containment until the 3 PM announcement, in which containment was said to be 11 percent. At that time 150 personnel were working the blaze with more on the way.

2. The fight against this fire hasn't been easy. Wind speeds in the range of 30 to 40 miles per hour in the Estes Park area throughout Tuesday have made the fire unpredictable and dangerous. The fire is also burning in rugged and steep terrain that's difficult and risky for ground crews to reach. Because of strong winds, air efforts have also been hindered. Winds are expected to decrease Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with officials hopeful this will allow for use of air resources.

3. The fire is burning within close proximity of several key points of interest, as well as plenty of residential space. Initial estimates put the Kruger Rock fire at just 2.5 miles away from downtown Estes Park. It's also just a few miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, which is found to the west of the blaze. The fire has also resulted in a closure of heavily trafficked Highway 36 and is said to be threatening several structures. No damage to structures has been reported as of Tuesday afternoon. No injuries have been reported either.

4. A number of mandatory evacuations have been issued in the Estes Park area, with the most up-to-date information about that found here. At time of publishing, this included areas on both sides of US 36, southeast of Estes Park. Authorities used strong language, telling those in mandatory evacuation zones to "evacuate the area immediately and as quickly as possible. Do not delay leaving to gather belongings or make efforts to protect your home or business." According to one official, as of Tuesday afternoon, more than 1,400 contacts had been alerted about evacuations through emergency systems, though all of these contacts may not represent unique people or households.

Map Credit: Larimer County website, screenshot as of 1:30 PM on Tuesday, November 16.

Mandatory evacuations can be seen in red with voluntary evacuations seen in yellow. This is subject to rapid change, find official updates here. The town of Estes Park can also be seen on the map, as can US 36 – the dark red line that cuts through the evacuation zone. Map Credit: Larimer County website, screenshot as of 1:30 PM on Tuesday, November 16.

5. The Kruger Rock fire has also resulted in a national forest closure, which includes the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of Roosevelt National Forest in lands south and east of Estes Park. A forest closure map can be seen below.

Map Credit: USDA.

Map Credit: USDA; USFS.

It's also worth noting that the fire has closed Hermit Park Open Space, which is home to a trail used to access Kruger Rock – the namesake landmark of the blaze.

Rocky Mountain National Park has closed the Twin Sisters area, including the Twin Sisters trail and parking area. The Lily Lake area remains open. In the words of Rocky Mountain National Park officials, the closure has been put in place out of "an abundance of caution."

6. Information about what caused the fire has not been released. It appears that lightning storms were not present in the area on Tuesday morning, which could point to a human cause. Conditions in Colorado are ripe for wildfire, with much of the state being dry, hot, and windy. Red flag warnings have been present in Colorado, though not in Estes Park.

See images and footage from the fire here.

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Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee is OutThere Colorado's Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to hike, rock climb, and trail run. He's on a mission to summit all 58 of Colorado's fourteeners and has already climbed more than half.


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