What an experience we had in Rocky Mountain National Park today! We were invited in with the press to stop at 3 spots to see the helitankers that had come in from California reload with water and then see where the Fern Lake Fire had burned in Moraine Park.
It was incredible to see this huge helitanker circle and stop at this little “pumpkin” filled with 5,000 gallons of water. They can make a drop-off and return every 7-8 minutes.
When the helitankers had refilled from the pumpkin, the helitanker would take off toward the fire while the fire trucks would make a b-line to the nearest fire hydrant in Estes Park to refill with water and then come back to refill the pumpkin.
You can see the smoke over the ridge as the helitanker heads back to drop its water on the fire. Last night the fire spotted on Steep Mountain and back up into Forest Canyon. There were 100 foot flames up in the canyon as the winds peaked at about 70 mph. Thank Goodness they didn’t spark over the Bear Lake Road barrier.
From there we caravanned up to the Moraine Park Museum which is being used as staging for the firefighters. Here you can see where Moraine Park has burned, some from the “wild” fire Friday night and some from back-burning done by the firefighters to contain the perimeter of the fire. In the distance by the river, you can see the chimney of the one cabin that was destroyed by the fire Friday night and early Saturday morning when the 75 mph winds whipped the embers way beyond.
In the far distance past the Cub Lake Trail you can see the fire still smoldering up in Forest Canyon.
We met some of the firefighters from San Bernardino, CA who said they wree here for the long haul. Thank you, firefighters! We all appreciate everything you have done to help us here in Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park! You have been awesome!!
After viewing Moraine Park and seeing the work that the firefighters have done to contain and limit the fire here, we are confident that next year Moraine Park will bring the same beauty as before the fire.