The East Troublesome fire stalled Saturday a mile and a quarter from the deserted town of Estes Park, fire officials said Saturday evening.
In one spot, they said it had come within a half mile of the town, which was evacuated Thursday when the fire blew up overnight, growing about 150,000 acres to become the second largest in Colorado history.
Dealing with fierce winds Saturday, firefighters were hoping to protect the town at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park for one more day ahead of a winter storm expected to bring more than a foot of snow in the high country.
Steve Kliest, a public information officer with Rocky Mountain Area Incident Management Team, said earlier Saturday, the flames were stalled on Bear Lake Road.
The U.S. Forest Service reported earlier that the east side of the fire had split into two fingers. One is moving along Big Thompson River and the other is moving east along Mill Creek.
On Saturday morning, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office issued a mandatory evacuation that included the town of Estes Park. The town's estimated population in 2019 was 5,821.
Fire officials knew Saturday was going to be a challenge because of the wind gusts that were projected to continuously blow from 50 to 60 mph all day.
The fire engulfed at least 10,000 more acres on Saturday growing to at least 191,000 acres, Noel Livingston, a fire incident commander, said during a Facebook live briefing.
Despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters supported by helicopters and air tankers when winds permit, the fire is only 4% to 5% contained, Livingston said.
Overnight Friday, fire crews successfully cleared one lane of the road that led into Rocky Mountain National Park, which has allowed crews to travel north into the park and combat the flames.
Although the weather forecast predicts 10 to 20 inches of snowfall in Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding areas, including Estes Park, Kliest said the snow is a blessing and a curse.
"It'll moderate the fire behavior, which means it'll slow it, but it will also limit our folks being able to get out there and do work," he said. "Depending on the heaviness of the snowfall, we can't actively engage firefighters out there."