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With multiple fires burning in Colorado, obtaining resources becomes a challenge

Cameron Peak IC: Smokes going to be here a while
Posted at 12:28 AM, Aug 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-16 04:06:31-04

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Hot, dry winds contributed to the expansion of the Cameron Peak Fire in Larimer County, which has grown to 5,761 acres.

The blaze, burning in rough terrain about 15 miles southwest of Red Feather Lakes, has led to the evacuation of several camping areas.

"They made us evacuate Pingree Park," said Talvin Gorek, who was on a weekend camping trip with a large group of friends. "The officer said it appeared the fire was coming directly our way, directly to where we were camping."

Fellow camper, Joel Rodriguez, said he thought their entire weekend was going to be ruined. It was a camping trip they'd been looking forward to after a long pandemic-related shutdown.

"I kind of, in my mind, gave up because I didn’t want to stress out about finding a new spot," he said.

But they were able to find another spot along Hwy 14, in Poudre Canyon, just east of the road closure.

"God willing, we found one right here," he said.

Incident commander Michael Haydon said this blaze is going to be a tough one to fight, because of the steep terrain loaded with fuel.

"The fire is going to be here a long time," he said.

One hundred and eight personnel have been assigned to the fire.

Paul Hohn, of incident management operations, said, "we cannot take the traditional approach where you have firefighters go in and construct a hand line, and then dig and chainsaw out, and get fuel out of the way. It’s just too extreme and too dangerous."

He said they've been concentrating on using helicopters to bring in water drops, and plan to use equipment to cut a wider swath as a barrier, when possible.

During an early evening briefing on Facebook, Haydon said getting resources is going to be a challenge with several major fires burning in Colorado.

"We have the Pine Gulch Fire, the Grizzly Fire and the Williams (Fork) Fire right now eating up resources that all of us want," he said.

Meteorologist Darren Clabo said the Cameron Peak Fire wasn't as intense Saturday as it was Friday. He said there was a bit of a wind shift, pushing the fire to the east and even to the south in some places.

"We had temperatures around 80 degrees and relative humidity under ten percent, which is exceptionally dry," Clabo added. "Over the next 48 hours we expect similar conditions to what we had (Saturday.)"

Haydon said they hope to get a break from Mother Nature, in the form of rain by Tuesday.

In he meantime, he says the focus is on the folks in operations.

"They’re the ones out there trying to put this puzzle together and find the right time and the right place to apply energy, effort and resources to potentially stop, turn, or alter the course of the fire."

Highway 14 is closed in Poudre Canyon from Rustic to Hayden.