Closed trails Gold Creek Trail No. 1150 Gilpin Trail No. 1161 North Lake Trail, No. 1164 Three Island Trail, No. 1163 Wyoming Trail, No. 1101, between Gold Lake Trail No. 1150 and Lost Ranger Trail No. 1131 Ute Pass Trail No. 1128 Bear Creek Trail No. 1180 Lost Ranger Trail No. 1131 Grizzly-Helena Trail No. 1126 Bighorn Lake Trail, No. 1040 Lone Pine Trail, No. 1129 Bear Lakes Trail, No. 1159 Lake Katherine Trail, No. 1157 Road closures include: Seedhouse Road (Forest Service Road 400), from the intersection of Forest Service Road 443 to its conclusion All of South Fork Elk River Road (Forest Service Road 443)
A wildfire burning in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area grew to about 282 acres by Wednesday morning.
The Wolverine Fire is not expected to grow significantly during the next couple of days because of cool weather, said Mark Cahur, fire-use manager. But the potential for it to make a run will increase if the weather is hot and dry.
Cold temperatures Tuesday night, along with high humidity, kept the wildfire's growth at a minimum.
The fire is burning about 18 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs in an area popular with recreational users and hunters.
A 38,400-acre area surrounding the fire has been closed to all uses for public safety.
The closure will be in effect through the holiday weekend and until a major change, such as snowfall, heavy rain or late-fall conditions, occurs, Cahur said. The size of the closure area likely will decrease as the risk to the public decreases.
U.S. Forest Service officials have been contacting hikers and hunters in the area to advise them about the fire and the area closure.
Diann Ritschard, spokeswoman for the Forest Service, said no one is unaccounted for. Everyone known to be in the burn area has left, she said.
Forest Service workers will remain at the closure area throughout the week and weekend to alert people about the closure. Seedhouse Road is closed from its intersection with Forest Service Road 443 to its conclusion. Forest Service employees also will be at popular trailheads and have posted notices throughout the area alerting the public about trail closures, Ritschard said.
The fire likely started after lightning storms moved through the area late last week, Ritschard said. When it was first discovered Monday, the blaze was 5 acres.
Natural boundaries, including rocky, sparsely vegetated areas to the north and a previously burned area to the south, are expected to contain the fire. Cahur said he does not expect the fire to get any larger than 5,000 acres.
The blaze is being managed as a fire-use fire, which means it will be allowed to burn within predetermined boundaries to benefit natural resources. If the fire were to threaten homes or private property, suppression efforts would be taken.
"Fire is one of nature's ways of rejuvenating old, dying forests and forests affected by droughts, blowdowns and beetle epidemics," Cahur said. "This is how the natural ecosystem is meant to operate."
Fall is a good time for a fire-use fire because days are shorter and humidity is higher, which means the fire likely will burn for many days but will not burn large areas in a short period of time, Ritschard said.
People who were planning to hunt or hike in the area, especially as the holiday weekend approaches, may see the fire as a nuisance.
But Forest Service officials emphasize that the fire is good for the forest. It is burning in an area where about 75 percent of trees are dead because of beetle infestations, and it will clear old vegetation and make way for new growth.
The fire is northwest of Wolverine Basin, sandwiched between the areas burned during the Burn Ridge and Hinman fires of 2002.
The fire is being monitored by helicopter as well as by Forest Service officials on the ground.
Currently, there are no fire restrictions in Northwest Colorado.
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com