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Firefighters preparing for hotter, drier conditions this week at Cameron Peak Fire

Cameron Peak Fire_Sept. 4 2020
Posted at 11:28 AM, Sep 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-14 13:34:50-04

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — After several days of cold and wet conditions, the Cameron Peak Fire's activity is increasing as the area warms up and dries out, fire officials said Monday morning.

Warm temperatures, low humidity and sunny skies are continuing to melt the snow around the fire, but firefighters have been able to mop-up and construct direct fire lines along Buckhorn Road to Comanche Reservoir, Pingree Park Road and Highway 14, according to the incident management team.

Structure protection is underway near the Crystal Lakes, Red Feather, and Glacier View subdivisions.

As of Saturday, the 102,596-acre fire has destroyed 54 structures, according to an assessment by the Larimer County Damage Assessment Team (DAT).

Of the 54 structures, 25 are residential — two of which were primary residences — and 29 are outbuildings. Two structures were reported to have damage but were not classified as destroyed, DAT said in a release.

The fire remains 4% contained as of Monday morning.

Structure protection will continue for the next several weeks. The fire's 237-mile perimeter covers rough terrain with steep slopes and downed trees and snags, according to the incident management team.

Fire managers are continuing to work on structure assessments in Estes Park, Glen Haven and the surrounding communities.

On Monday, firefighters will begin to lay down direct fire line and mop up along Buckhorn Road and Comanche Lake section in anticipation of a northwesterly wind predicted for Tuesday. While crews will continue to work in other areas of the fire, surge forces will focus in the Buckhorn and Pingree Park area, according to the incident management team.

A high-pressure system has settled over the fire, bringing temperatures in the 60s and 70s and low humidity. Winds will stay light Monday, but will become stronger Tuesday. Thunderstorms are expected over the fire this weekend.

The fire stayed relatively calm last week thanks to snowfall — between 8 and 14 inches — and cold, calm conditions.

A one-hour virtual meeting is planned for 7:30 p.m. Monday so officials can update the community on the fire. You can watch the meeting on Facebook here.

Multiple mandatory and voluntary evacuations, as well as road closures, are in place around the Cameron Peak Fire. Click here for a full list of evacuations, or explore the map below.

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.

The fire is the fourth-largest in Colorado history. It has surpassed the High Park Fire that damaged hundreds of homes and killed one person in 2012 just east of where the Cameron Peak Fire is currently burning.

The state's 10 largest wildfires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 139,007 acres
2. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
3. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
4. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 102,596 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 2013 West Fork Complex is not included on this list because it was a series of different fires close to one another.)

The fire ignited on Aug. 13 in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests near Cameron Pass and Chambers Lake. Its cause is under investigation. Fire officials said the estimated containment date is Oct. 31.

A statewide open fire ban is in effect for all of Colorado through Oct. 7.

Drones are not allowed to fly around the fire. On Sunday afternoon, a drone was spotted flying in the restricted fly zone near Glen Haven. This caused the officials of the fire's air operations to shift their efforts to the northern portion of the fire until they could confirm that the drone had left the area and would not return.