Morgan Creek Fire grows to 5,997 acres, now 8% contained

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Posted at 4:15 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-26 18:15:29-04

ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. – A wildfire that ignited earlier this month near Clark has grown to 5,997 acres in size and was 8% contained as of Monday, according to fire officials.

Troy Hagan, the incident commander for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Black, said fire behavior from the Morgan Creek Fire was active Sunday as crews continued firing along the indirect line towards the 400 Road, completing operations to within approximately ½ mile of the road in Division A. Firing was stopped mid-afternoon when adverse winds from a thunderstorm northeast of the fire moved into the area.

In Divisions Z and X, crews continued improving fire lines and mopping up pockets of heat, which led to additional containment on the west side of the fire, Hagan said, adding those operations would continue Monday.

For Division A, crews are prepared to continue the firing operation today to connect the burned area to County Road 64/Forest Service Road 400 if conditions are favorable, Hagan said, adding firing operations along the indirect line will remove unburned fuels to widen the fire line to protect values at risk along County Road 64.

One crew and four engines working as a swing shift will patrol established fire lines and the firing operations into the night, he said.

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Additionally, Rocky Mountain Team Black will be transitioning command of the Morgan Creek Fire to a Type 3 organization at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

“Team Black would like to thank the agencies involved in managing the Morgan Creek Fire as well as the community,” said Team Black Incident Commander Troy Hagan. “We’re grateful for the support that we’ve been shown over the past two weeks.”

Fire officials said they expected fire activity to be similar to Sunday, with the potential for storms near the fire Monday afternoon. As for air quality, Northern Routt County may experience periods of light to moderate smoke from Yampa to the Wyoming border from both local and long-distance fires. Smoke from fires in Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, and British Columbia will be visible in the upper atmosphere throughout the day, Hagan said, adding a plume of smoke may be visible from Monday’s firing operations on the Morgan Creek Fire.

Heavy smoke may impact Glen Eden and Clark late evening to early morning as smoke cools and drains down into lower elevations, he said.

Closures and evacuations

A forest closure order remains in effect for areas near the Morgan Creek Fire including many areas in the Seedhouse recreation corridor and the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area.

The Routt County Sheriff’s Office issued a voluntary pre-evacuation notice for residents near the fire on July 9. That pre-evacuation notice remains in effect and more information is available on the Routt County Current Evacuation Notices Map.

Forest Service Road 400, also known as the Seedhouse Road, as well as other Forest Service roads and trails in the closure area remain closed to entry for public and firefighter safety. County Road 64 between County Road 129 and Forest Service Road 400 is limited to emergency and local traffic only. A section of the Continental Divide Trail is closed and hikers are being routed along State Route 129 around the fire area. More information is available on the Continental Divide Trail Coalition website.