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Cameron Peak Fire grows to over 200,000 acres

Wind gusts reached 70 mph
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Cameron Peak Fire on Oct 15_ by Ryan Hansen
Posted at 7:06 AM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-18 12:04:01-04

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The Cameron Peak Fire grew to a total of 203,253 acres as of Sunday.

Erratic winds pushed the fire eastward toward Loveland through the afternoon Saturday, prompting new evacuations. The fire remained at 62% containment as of Sunday.

Cameron Peak fire: Over 60-percent contained but officials warn 'stay alert'

Click here for new updates inside TheDenverChannel.com's live blog.

Fire officials said structures in the Buckskin Heights area may have been impacted by Saturday's explosive expansion of the fire. But it's not clear at this point the extent of the impact. In a Facebook post, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said homes were lost/burned along the upper part of Otter Rd, on the western portion of upper Redstone Canyon, and in The Retreat in Glen Haven.

More mandatory evacuations were announced Saturday:

  • Residents in the the area on the east side of Glade Road from north of Mildred Lane to north of Spring Canyon Ranch Road are being asked to leave.
  • Also, mandatory evacuations were issued for all of County Road 52E (Rist Canyon Road) from County Road 27 east to County Road 27E.
  • Mandatory Evacuations for County Road 27 east to the Devils Backbone.

Loveland Water and Power, at the request of the firefighting team, has suspended power service in areas now covered by mandatory evacuations. The City’s water and wastewater services remain fully operational.

The Red Cross advises Cameron Peak Fire evacuees who may need assistance go to the Embassy Suites- 4705 Clydesdale Pkwy, Loveland, CO 80538.

The following places in Larimer County are under mandatory evacuations:

  • County Road 27 (the Buckhorn Road) from County Road 44H south to Masonville
  • Otter Road (Buckskin Heights)
  • Glen Haven, Glen Haven Retreat, Storm Mountain and Palisade Mountain
  • The Redstone Canyon area
  • Bobcat Ridge Natural Area
  • Glade Road from north of Mildred Lane to north of Spring Canyon Ranch Road
  • Masonville
  • County Road 27 east to the Devils Backbone
  • County Road 52E (Rist Canyon Road) from County Road 27 east to County Road 27E
  • Horsetooth Mountain Park
  • Overhill Drive
  • Milner Mountain
  • Lory State Park
  • Highway 34 from Dam Store to west of Soul Shine Road
  • Highway 14 and Larimer County Rd 103 near Chambers Lake
  • Pinewood Reservoir to Flatiron Reservoir
  • County Road 29 to the west side of County Road 27 north of Highway 34.

The following places in Larimer County are under voluntary evacuations:

  • County Road 52E (Rist Canyon Road) from County Road 27 east to County Road 2)
  • Area of Highway 34 from Drake to just west of the Dam Store. (The highway was temporarily shut down in both directions between Loveland and Estes Park to help with evacuations, but has reopened.)
  • Rist Canyon Road from County Road 27 east to County Road 27E
  • Roach area
  • Pinewood Reservoir to Flatiron Reservoir
  • Highway 34 from Soul Shine Road west to Mall Road
  • County Road 29 to the west side of County Road 27 north of Highway 34.
  • County Road 27 to the Devils Backbone north of Highway 34.

To sign up for emergency alerts in Larimer County, visit NOCO Alert's website here. For updates for people who have been forced to evacuate, text the word LCEVAC to 888777 from your cell phone. View the mandatory evacuations in the map below, or go here for the full list of evacuations and closures.

Highway 34 in Big Thompson Canyon closed at 1 p.m. to allow residents to evacuate.

Residents in Crystal Lakes, Red Feather Lakes, Lady Moon, Red Feather Highlands and Hohnholz are no longer any kind of evacuation order, fire authorities announced Friday afternoon.

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest closed Thursday morning. This closure includes recreation sites — including all campgrounds — trails and Forest Service Roads. Rocky Mountain National Park announced an additional closure of the Lawn Lake Trail on Thursday afternoon. Multiple other ares in the northern part of the park are already closed.

The City of Fort Collins tweeted Thursday night that while the fire pushed toward the west side of Horsetooth Reservoir, "there is little concern about it reaching or causing evacuations in Fort Collins city limits."

Saturday will be "a challenging day," and that it would be "highly unlikely" that crews will be flying at all due to the expected strong winds, Chief Paul Demerico of Rocky Mountain Team 1 said during a virtual community meeting Friday.

Watch the full community update in the video below:

Crews had to be pulled from Miller Creek, The Retreat and Storm Mountain due to extreme fire activity around 1:30 p.m. Friday. According to firefighter reports, the fire is moving very fast. Winds also picked up over the fire area around 1 p.m. and suppression aircraft had to be grounded. Fire activity increased south of Signal Mountain and is well established in Miller Fork.

This comes after a day of calmer winds Thursday that allowed fire officials to use air resources, including three large air tankers and four type 1 helicopters. Officials said the crews made good progress Thursday holding the fire south of Buckhorn Road. They were also able to assess and protect structures that are north, east and south of the fire's uncontrolled edge.

Firefighters will continue their work of keeping the fire west of County Road 27, Demerico said. One of their main objectives remains preventing the fire from moving south.

"Realistically, with Red Flag conditions and miles of open fire line, that fire advance may occur today with the critical fire weather," he said. "So we're doing everything we can to make sure we're prepared for a fire advance to the communities of Glen Haven all the way to Masonville."

To prevent this, crews put ground resources south of the eastern section of the fire.

He reminded the public that their safety and firefighter safety is their No. 1 priority.

A structure protection group is working north of the fire to protect the Red Feather and Crystal Lakes areas. Another group is working south and east of the fire's edge, including the communities between the fire and Glen Haven.

Cameron Peak Fire map_Oct 16 2020

The smoke outlook Friday is better than Wednesday and Thursday along the northern Front Range. However areas around Fort Collins, Greeley, Estes Park, Longmont, Boulder and Nederland could see periods of moderate to heavy smoke, according to the Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program.

The Cameron Peak Fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado history on Wednesday evening.

The state's 10 largest wildfires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 187,537 acres
2. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 139,007 acres
3. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
4. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
5. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
6. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
7. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
8. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
9. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
10. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.

Scroll through the below StoryMap to see the fire's progression since it sparked on Aug. 13. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

More than 1,000 fire personnel are working around the fire.