Cameron Peak Fire expanded 700 acres southwest into difficult terrain, fire officials say

Cameron Peak Fire_Aug 18 2020_by Wellington Fire Wildland crew
Posted at 10:49 AM, Aug 20, 2020

Click here for an update on the Cameron Peak Fire from Friday, Aug. 21.

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The Cameron Peak Fire has burned 16,461 acres as of Thursday morning with the most growth out of its southwestern section. Fire officials said firefighters are preparing for another day of mostly dry storms that could cause erratic winds.

It remains 0% contained as it burns 25 miles east of Walden and 15 miles southwest of Red Feather Lakes.

Jake Livingston, operations section chief for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Blue Team, provided an update on the fire Thursday morning. He works with the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service out of Fairbanks, Alaska.

Crews on the southwest edge of the fire are battling the most active part of the fire, he said. This includes the areas near Long Draw Road and Peterson Lake Road.

"Yesterday, there was about 700 acres of growth that occurred out there," Livingstone said. "There were some spot fires over some roadways. ... (Firefighters) are unable to get in directly to a lot of that due to the terrain because it's super steep."

Livingstone said the team's No. 1 priority is firefighter and public safety.

"We have had areas of real active fire behavior where, even with air support, it was not safe for firefighters to engage directly on the fire line," he said. "In some cases, when the fire is really active, the aircraft may not necessarily be effective and then that also exposes pilots and the aircraft as well."

However, he noted that when safe, they have used air crews throughout the day to directly attack the edges of the fire.

Livingston also provided updates on the other regions of the fire:

  • Northwest/west: Crews will work Thursday to assess structures and values that are at risk along the Laramie River Road/County Road 103. Necessary supplies will be set up at sites that could be at risk.
  • North: Crews will continue to remove vegetation along Dead Man Road and areas further out like Cherokee Park Road and the Pearl Beaver Road.
  • East: This division is working on structure protection around Crystal Lakes and Red Feather Lakes. Previously, crews had prepared the roads south of Crystal Lakes with equipment and hand crews. Most of that is complete, Livingston said. South of Red Feather Lakes, firefighters are assessing structures, setting up protection measures and removing vegetation along the roads.
  • Southeast: Crews have already assessed the area around the Pingree Park area. This group is also helping other divisions as needed.

On Wednesday, a new division was added to the Cameron Peak Fire. This group is set up on the fire's south side.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the Cameron Peak Fire in Larimer County from noon until 9 p.m. Thursday.

Livingston said they are expecting winds from the northwest at 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph Thursday. Thunderstorms in the afternoon could cause erratic winds and hazardous conditions for firefighters, he said.

The U.S Forest Service closed more areas of the Roosevelt National Forest on Thursday afternoon, closing National Forest lands west of County Roads 67J, 69, 63E and 27, east of the Colorado State Forest State Park, south of County Road 80 C and north of Rocky Mountain National Park and County Road 44H.

The new closures affect Chambers Lake, Indian Meadows, Eggers and Creedmore Lake, Bellaire Lake, Bennett Creek, Cameron Pass, Fish Creek and Tunnel – along with several campgrounds.

“This closure is in place for public safety and to support firefighting efforts. These areas are very popular with recreationists but also often very remote. Roads and trails in this area are greatly interconnected. If evacuations are necessary, it can be difficult to reach people and can take emergency responders a great deal of time to make sure everyone is out safely,” the Forest Service said.

Law enforcement is still investigating the cause of the fire and is asking for any photos the public may have from the trails located south of Cameron Peak, especially photos taken of active fire adjacent to any trails. Share those photos with and call 307-745-2392, option 5, if you have any other information about how the fire started.

The fire started Aug. 13 in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests near Cameron Pass and Chambers Lake. No structures have been damaged and no injuries have been reported at the fire.

On Tuesday afternoon, Rocky Mountain National Park put in place temporary closures in the northwestern area of the park out of an abundance of caution because the fire is burning about four miles from the park’s northwest edge. Among the closures are Mummy Pass Trail, Comanche Peak Trail, Mirror Lake Trail, Poudre River Trail, Crater Trail, Colorado River Trail, Red Mountain Trail, Grand Ditch Access, Skeleton Gulch Trail, Thunder Pass Trail, Little Yellowstone Trail, Holzwarth Historic Site beyond the historic site, Cascade Creek, Cache La Poudre, South Cache La Poudre, Hague Creek and Mosquito Creek.

In addition, Colorado Highway 14 is closed from Rustic to Gould.

Cameron Peak Fire officials said they are issuing credentials for residents and property owners for Red Feather Lakes, Crystal Lakes, Rustic, the Pingree Hill area and people who have already evacuated.

Residents of those areas can stop by the following locations Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to pick up credentials:

  • Red Feather Lakes Community Center at 58 Fire House Lane, Red Feather Lakes
  • Crystal Lake Base Camp at 300 Tami Road, Red Feather Lakes
  • Stove Prairie Elementary School at 3891 Stove Prairie Road, Bellvue

Click here for more information on what you’ll need to bring.

The following areas are under evacuation orders: Long Draw Road, Long Draw Reservoir area, Deadman Road between County Roads 103 and 73C, Manhattan Road between Rustic and Boy Scout Ranch Road, and Pingree Park south and west of Crown Point.

People who have to evacuate can text LCEVAC to 888777 for updates. More information on evacuations, road closures and emergency alerts can be found here.