Three Lake Dillon firefighters deployed to the Fern Lake wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday after overnight winds whipped the long-running blaze into a threatening inferno.
Lt. Jonathan Bradley, Lt. Jason Bell and firefighter Mike Miller responded in a Type III engine to the call for assistance from the federal Type I team that hastily took over management of the blaze after it blew up overnight, forcing the evacuation of 583 homes in Estes Park
Pushed by 75 mph winds overnight, the fire, which began from an illegal campfire on Oct. 9, jumped established fire lines and ran into Moraine Park, an open meadow in Rocky Mountain National Park.
"We're always glad to help our neighbors like this, and we know we can count on them if we need them," said Jeff Berino, Lake Dillon Fire deputy chief. "This fire is pretty late in the season, but it serves as a reminder that our fire danger remains elevated in the High Country this time of year, especially with as little snow as we have received."
The Fern Lake fire had been estimated at 1,515 acres and was 40 percent contained before the overnight windstorm.
It had been managed for resource purposes with a relatively small team of about 60 firefighters before the blowup, but the federal Type I management team -- the highest level of overhead - was summonsed to the blaze, and with it put out the call for assistance throughout the region. Also responding were hot shot crews, two Type I helicopters and additional engines.
The federal government will reimburse Lake Dillon Fire for the costs of the team responding to the fire.