Firefighters were 'finally able to go on offense' Monday at Cameron Peak Fire

Cameron Peak Fire_Ryan Buller/RBULLERPHOTOGRAPHY
Posted at 8:51 AM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 07:19:30-04

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — An incident commander at the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire on record in Colorado, said firefighters were "finally able to go on offense" on Monday.

The fire grew slightly overnight to 205,005 acres.

Containment around the perimeter of the fire dropped to 51% after rising to 62% on Monday. Officials said this is due to the fire increasing in size, and therefore, perimeter, officials explained during a Monday evening community meeting on Facebook.

At noon, the Canyon Lakes Ranger District said the fire became "very active all the way from The Retreat to Storm Mountain" and officials were pulling crews back to County Road 43 for their safety. As they left the area, they turned on pumps and sprinklers to try to protect structures.

However by nightfall Tuesday, Incident Commander Dan Dallas said the fire looks much different than just two days ago thanks to the "good work" that "has been accomplished over the last several days."

On Tuesday morning, fire officials said the firefighting efforts were successful on Monday, despite the dry and windy conditions.

Rocky Mountain Area Incident Commander Dan Dallas said crews were "finally able to go on offense" on Monday.

READ MORE: How to help those affected by Colorado's wildfires

Fire officials reported that aircraft — including a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), and small and medium helicopters — spent more than 60 hours above the fire on Monday. They dropped water and retardants on the southern perimeter near Glen Haven, The Retreat and Storm Mountain. The incident management team said firefighters made "excellent progress" securing the southern edge of the fire n this area.

Laying down fire lines around the southeast corner of the fire near Masonville remains a priority, the incident management team said.

Structure protection groups are working along the southern and eastern edges of the fire.

Conditions from Monday will be similar to Tuesday as fuels continue to dry out, officials said. A Red Flag Warning goes into effect Wednesday at noon through Thursday at 8 a.m.

Fire activity may increase in the next three days as dry weather persists around the fire.

Air quality is rated as moderate for both Tuesday and Wednesday in Estes Park, Longmont and Boulder.

This fire is a 24-hour operation, meaning firefighters are working to contain it through the day and night.

Multiple locations around the edges of the fire are under voluntary or mandatory evacuations. For details, view the evacuations in the map below, or go here for the full list of evacuations and closures. You can also call 970-980-2500.

For updates on evacuations and closures, text LCEVAC to 888777 from your cell phone.

Competition for resources remains high nationwide due to wildfires across the west.

The Colorado Center of Excellence and Advanced Technology has set up a live view of the Cameron Peak Fire from Horsetooth Mountain, which can be viewed here.

The cause of the Cameron Peak Fire remains under investigation. It is the first wildfire in Colorado history to grow beyond 200,000 acres.

The state's 10 largest wildfires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 205,004 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.

It has an estimated containment date of Nov. 8.

Denver7 Gives has started a new fundraising campaign for victims of Colorado's wildfires. To donate, go here and then look for "Help Colorado Wildfire Victims" in the dropdown. We are working with our community partners up and down the Front Range to ensure every dollar raised stays in Colorado and helps families who've lost so much.