Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado will remain closed until at least through the weekend, the U.S. Forest Service announced on Thursday afternoon.
"We just can’t risk one more fire,” Forest Supervisor Monte Williams stated in a recent press release.
The Cameron Peak, CalWood, and East Troublesome fires are still burning despite recent snowfall ranging in accumulations of 6 to 18 inches across north central Colorado.
"Both the Cameron Peak and Williams Fork fires have already been snowed on multiple times, and they both made big runs after that,” Williams warned. “We are seeing conditions worse than 2012 when the Fern Lake Fire made a run through Rocky Mountain National Park toward Estes Park from under the snow in December.”
Officials said the recent amount of snowfall is equivalent to about one-half to one-inch of rain. The risk for fire remains for larger fuels such as trees and downed logs, which are the driest fire managers have seen in about 20 years.
The decision to extend forest closures comes following the support of Grand, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Boulder, Larimer, and Jefferson counties as well as Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Rocky Mountain National Park also remains closed to park visitors due to fire activity on the west side of the Continental Divide.
“Foremost on our minds are the local firefighters, law enforcement officers, search and rescue personnel, and emergency first responders who have spent the past 10 weeks protecting their communities,” Williams stated. “We are also thinking of the tens of thousands of residents who live in the wildland urban interface around the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, whose homes are surrounded by forests that remain tinder dry."
Colorado's wildfire season isn't over yet. With the return of warmer-than-normal temperatures, the fire danger is expected to increase as the snow starts to melt.
Williams also reminded, "that there is the population of our greater metropolitan areas who have been breathing smoke all summer.
Stage 3 fire restrictions went into full effect on October 20th, banning all use of the National Forest due to extreme fire danger.
Editor's Note: As you hit the trails in Colorado, please respect all forest and wildlife closures. Fire bans are also in effect.