Fire prompts officials to close Rocky Mountain National Park

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Smoke and flames from the East Troublesome Fire burning in Colorado on Thursday prompted officials to close Rocky Mountain National Park to visitors.

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The fire, which sparked Oct. 14, grew overnight to cover more than 125,000 acres by Thursday morning, officials said.

“If conditions allow, an Infrared flight is planned to gauge where there is current fire activity,” park officials said in a social media post. “This is a rapidly evolving situation. Currently, air quality is hazardous within Rocky Mountain National Park. Trail Ridge Road is not passable on the west side due to downed trees on the road.”

All of #RMNP is closing to park visitors due to fire activity on the west side of the Continental Divide. If...

Posted by Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday, October 22, 2020

Nearly 300 firefighters are battling the blaze, which was about 5% contained as of Thursday morning, though the fire is expected to continue to grow. A red flag warning, indicating strong winds and a low relative humidity, is in effect for parts of the high country.

“The fire is growing faster than we can catch it right now,” Fire Incident Commander Jake Winfield told KCNC-TV.

Hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate due to the fire. As of Thursday, the blaze was the fourth-largest wildfire in Colorado’s history, The Washington Post reported, noting that three of Colorado’s largest wildfires on record have happened this year.

The largest fire in the state’s history, the Cameron Peak Fire, has so far scorched more than 206,000 acres west of Fort Collins, according to authorities. As of Thursday, more than 1,600 firefighters were working to battle the blaze, which is 55% contained.