Morgan Creek fire

Morgan Creek fire.

The uncontained Morgan Creek fire has burned nearly 4,000 acres of land in Routt National Forest in northern Colorado as of Monday, officials say. 

The blaze continued to move into the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness toward Floyd Peak and the areas already blackened by the Burn Ridge and Middle Fork fires, fire officials said. 

By Monday evening, the fire had devoured an estimated 3,858 acres, up more than 400 acres from the 3,414 burned through Sunday.

A Type III Incident Command team from Wyoming took command of the fire around 6 a.m. Monday.  

Dense smoke results in health advisory for large chunk of Colorado

Routt County issued voluntary pre-evacuation notices for some area residents just west and northwest of the wildfire. No mandatory evacuations were issued as of Monday evening.

The blaze also prompted the U.S. Forest Service’s Routt unit to close a section of the Continental Divide Trail and trails, roads, and campgrounds throughout the Seedhouse corridor. Several forest roads are also closed around the fire, InciWeb, a fire information system, reported.

Officials urged hikers, bikers and other people touring the area to avoid closed sections of the region.

Around 135 firefighters battled the fire with some crews focused on protecting structurers near the western side of the fire.

As of Monday evening, firefighters had five helicopters available to help battle the blaze, Public Information Officer Pat York told The Gazette. Three of the helicopters are type 1, meaning they can transport about 15 firefighters and hold up to 700 gallons of water, according to the National Park Service web site. The other two helicopters are type 3, which can carry four to eight people and hold up to 100 gallons of water. 

Smoke was visible along the Continental Divide in North Park as the fire consumed dead fuels and mixed conifer, according to InciWeb.

When asked about the surrounding wildlife, York was not concerned. 

"Most of the time, wildlife are pretty savvy when it comes to fire," she said. "They've been dealing with it longer than we have."

Air quality health advisories were issued for Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Leadville, Aspen, Gunnison, Montrose, Grand Junction and much of central Colorado, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment tweeted.

Firefighters might get some extra assistance Tuesday as there is a chance of rain, InciWeb reports. 

The fire was first reported Friday afternoon just south of the Hinman Park Campground, and while Routt County was under Stage I fire restrictions.

According to Drew Cosgrove, who works near the fire, the blaze came after he saw lightning in the area the night before, but the Forest Service hasn’t yet said what started the blaze.

Esteban Candelaria and Hugh Johnson contributed to this report.

Morgan Creek fire spreads in Colorado, prompts closures and air advisories
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