Area reopened after wildfire

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— U.S. Forest Service officials have lifted the closure of a 38,400-acre area surrounding the Wolverine Fire smoldering in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area.

The fire continues to smolder and creep along the perimeter, but recent weather has kept the fire to about 375 acres, said Mark Cahur, fire management specialist with the Forest Service.

"The cold nights and the frost and the recent rains have really helped hold it in place," Cahur said.

The South Fork of Elk River Road, or Forest Service Road 443, remains closed from its intersection with the Three Island Lake Trail to its conclusion. Three Island Lake Trail is open, but North Lake Trail is not.

"We're trying to dissuade people from going into that area," Cahur said. "That will protect people from the hazard of snags, the hazard of the fire that is still burning, although activity is very minor."

The wildfire was sparked by lightning at the end of August and was discovered Aug. 29, when it covered about 5 acres. It was fueled by beetle-killed timber, high winds and humidity.

The fire is burning about 18 miles northwest of Steamboat Springs in an area popular with recreational users and hunters. It is northwest of Wolverine Basin, sandwiched between the areas burned during the Burn Ridge and Hinman fires of 2002.

The fire is being managed for fire use, which means it is allowed to burn within predetermined parameters to benefit natural resources.

Officials are monitoring the fire daily from the ground and from flyovers, Cahur said. If the fire were to threaten homes or private property, officials would work to suppress it.

Meanwhile, Cahur said, hikers and hunters should be careful with fire in the backcountry and should pay close attention to weather conditions, especially if they are near the Wolverine Fire.

Hot, dry and windy conditions could cause the fire to flare. People in the area likely will see small volumes of smoke, but if they see a lot of smoke, they should consider leaving the area quickly, he said.

Backcountry users should be aware of their surroundings and have a plan to evacuate the area if necessary.

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