Wildfire managers expect some growth on Cameron Peak, Williams Fork fires through weekend

Mop-up and suppression repair continues on Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek fires
Posted at 12:17 PM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-04 14:31:10-04

Officials managing the four major wildfires burning in Colorado say they are expecting some increased activity Friday and through the weekend, as hotter temperatures and lower humidity levels move back into the state before a major cool-down next week.

Firefighting efforts for these four fires have cost the state $77 million, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho.

Here is the latest on the four major fires burning in Colorado:

Pine Gulch Fire

Firefighters have continually increased containment on the Pine Gulch Fire – the largest wildfire in state history – this week, bringing containment to 87% and holding the fire at 139,007 acres as of Friday morning.

Most of the suppression work on the fire is done, and firefighters will continue mop-up duties and suppression repair activities through the weekend. Nearly all of the water pumps used for structure protection have been removed.

There are still small pockets of heat on the northwestern side of the fire that hand crews will continue to work on, but some personnel and equipment are being released.

Conditions are expected to be hot and dry through the weekend, with very low relative humidity through Sunday. But fire managers say they do not expect any more perimeter fire growth on Friday, though smoldering activity within the perimeter is expected to continue to burn.

There are still many Bureau of Land Management closures in the area. The following roads are closed at these junctions:

• 266 Road at Highway 139
• County Road 200 at County Line
• 21 Road at entrance to Hunter Canyon
• 16 Road at V8/10 Road • County (Roan Creek) Road 204 at 209 intersection
• End of V2/10 Road at BLM closure
• Q 5/10 Road at 18 Road
• Garvey Canyon Road

The fire was started by lightning on July 31 about 18 miles north of Grand Junction. There were still 600 personnel on the fire as of Friday morning.

Grizzly Creek Fire

Thursday marked the fifth day in a row the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon did not grow in size, and firefighters increased containment by 1%, to 83% contained at 32,464 acres. There are still 548 personnel working the fire, which has been deemed human-caused.

As with managers on the other fires, Grizzly Creek Fire Incident Commander Norm McDonald said firefighters are expecting continued dry and warm conditions through the weekend, though the same conditions have not led to increased fire activity so far on the latter end of the week.

Officials said that firefighters have now secured 65 miles of the 78 1/2-mile perimeter around the fire and that most of the remaining uncontained line would be kept that way, as it is “too dangerous” for firefighters to work in.

Karen Scholl, the operations planning chief for the Alaska Incident Management Team currently in charge of the fire, said that firefighters should have suppression on the fire done by Sunday.

Crews are shifting mostly now to repairing roads and other areas that heavy equipment was moved through or where lines were dug, of which crews are expected to mostly finish this weekend aside from Transfer Trail Road, which Scholl said would take another week to complete.

While the forecast calls for freezing temperatures and likely snow early next week, fire managers are warning people in the area to be careful not to spark any new fires this weekend.

Coffee Pot and Transfer Trail roads remain closed, as do many BLM and National Forest Roads in the area. Click here for more.

Cameron Peak Fire

The Cameron Peak Fire in western Larimer County grew to 23,903 acres under windy and dry conditions Thursday, keeping containment at 6% and burning mostly along Green Ridge, near Peterson Lake and on the northwestern edge of the fire perimeter.

Fire managers say people visiting in the area over Labor Day weekend should expect “considerable smoke” coming off unburnt fuels in the fire. It is expected to run on Green Ridge, south of Sleeping Elephant Mountain, and in the upper South Fork of the Poudre River, managers said.

Burn out operations and line construction will continue with the goal of protecting watersheds in the area for the Poudre River system and others.

Line construction will continue through the weekend and work on structure protection will as well in the Crystal and Red Feather Lakes areas and Glacier View.

Saturday is expected to bring the most fire-prone conditions, being the hottest day this week, with relative humidity forecast in the low teens or single digits.

There were 840 personnel working the fire as of Friday morning. The cause of the Cameron Peak Fire remains under investigation. More information on evacuations and road closures can be found here.

Williams Fork Fire

The Williams Fork Fire, which is burning 15 miles southwest of Fraser in Grand County, was at 12,099 acres and 10% contained as of Friday morning.

The acreage and containment numbers were the same Friday as they were Thursday. Crews were preparing for an increase fire activity Friday with dry, warm conditions heading into the weekend.

On Thursday, helicopters dumped water over an area on the southeast side of the fire. They also continued work between the fire and Williams Creek, along St. Louis Creek Road and Crooked Creek Road.

Areas of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests remain closed as crews battle the fire.

There are no evacuation or pre-evacuation orders in place for this fire.

A Stage 2 fire restriction is in place for Grand County. The fire was caused by humans on Aug. 14.