Containment grows at Cameron Peak Fire, hazy conditions persist along Front Range

Cameron Peak Fire_Sept 16 2020
Posted at 11:05 AM, Sep 18, 2020

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The Cameron Peak Fire, burning in Larmier County, is now 15% contained after crews successfully connected fire lines along its east side, fire officials announced late Thursday evening.

While conditions around the 102,596-acre fire remain smokey, the fire did not grow Thursday.

As with the past few days, the Green Ridge area along Highway 14 — around The Thumb — has been the most active. Crews both on the ground and in helicopters are working in this region, according to the Southwest Area Incident Management Team.

In addition, crews are continuing to construct direct and indirect lines and structure protection for the Crystal Lakes, Red Feather, and Glacier View subdivisions.

The fire lines along Highway 14, Pingree Park Road, Long Draw Road and Buckhorn Road to Comanche Reservoir held up against the fire, which allowed some resources to go to other areas of the fire, according to the Southwest Area Incident Management Team.

Friday's focus will remain relatively similar to the rest of this week as crews continue constructing fire lines with a goal of tying them together.

More crews will arrive over the next few days to help expand containment while keeping the fire in its current footprint.

Temperatures will hover around 70 degrees Friday around the fire, with low humidity and mild wind. These conditions will cause smoke to settle around nearby communities.

A storm system will move in over the weekend, which could bring big thunderstorms to the area. The cooler temperatures and higher humidity could provide better conditions for firefighting.

The fire, in addition to the Middle Fork Fire north of Steamboat Springs and wildfires in states along the West Coast, is making the Front Range hazy.

Cameron Peak Fire smoke map_Sept 18 2020

The air quality will be unhealthy in Fort Collins, Greeley and Longmont on Friday, just as it was on Thursday.

More details are below for the impacted areas.

Cameron Peak Fire smoke impacts_Sept 18 2020

Multiple mandatory and voluntary evacuations, as well as road closures, are in place around the Cameron Peak Fire. The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said fire officials have downgraded the evacuation status from mandatory to voluntary for Highway 14 from Stove Prairie Landing west to Kelly Flats, and County Road 44H from Pennock Pass to County Road 27. Officials also lifted the voluntary evacuations for Stove Prairie Landing south along County Road 27 to County Road 44H and east to include Stratton Park.

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.