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Firefighters face another day of critical fire danger Saturday as Cameron Peak Fire continues to rage in the mountains west of Fort Collins and Loveland.
Colorado’s largest wildfire was measured at 1
As of Saturday morning, Cameron Peak Fire has grown by nearly 15,000 acres from Friday to 187,537 acres, according to a Facebook update from Paul Delmerico, operations manager for Rocky Mountain Incident Team 1.
The morning update also noted firefighters face the same critical conditions they faced on Friday as strong winds spread the fire south and east toward communities like Drake, Glen Haven and others near Big Thompson Canyon.
Delmerico said crews expect winds in the area to blow up to 60 miles per hour Saturday from 6 p.m. 11 to kl.
“It’s not conducive to direct repression,” Delmerico said. “At that point, we end up falling back on a point protection strategy that is about protecting (structures).”
Delmerico said the plan Saturday is still to mitigate the fire’s growth to the east, as crews will try to keep it west of County Road 27 and north of County Road 43. The area at the southeast end of the fire is where most of the firefighters and resources are focused right now, according to the update.
As of Saturday, 1,330 firefighters are working on the Cameron Peak Fire.
Even as the fire grows to the east, Delmerico said crews “feel very safe” in terms of fire lines on the north and west sides of the fire, where the containment is already strong.
Estes Park not ‘in direct line of fire’, but also ‘not out of the woods’
In an update Saturday morning, Cameron Peak Fire Operations section chief Paul Delmercio addressed concerns about the Estes Park community.
Voluntary evacuations were dispatched along the U.S. Highway 34 corridor Friday approaching the city at the gate to Rocky Mountain National Park, and mandatory evacuations spread east near Loveland’s western border. Flames could be seen on the mountains above Estes Park on Friday.
Because of the terrain around Estes Park and how the fire moved to the southeast, Delmercio said firefighters did not feel Estes Park was “imminently threatened or in the direct line of fire.”
But the community is not out of the woods yet, he said.
“A wind shift, an anomaly could change that, but right now we feel confident about people and their characteristics and the fire ahead in Estes Park,” Delmercio said.
– Jennifer Hefty
More: Why Cameron Peak Fire is unlikely to reach Fort Collins or Loveland
The Saturday forecast includes gusts of wind in the fire area, widespread smoke
A red flag warning predicting another day of gusts and low humidity is in place for the fire area through 6 p.m. 18 Saturday, where a cold front is expected to move across the Front Range, resulting in lower daytime hours and reduced winds.
But first, gusts as high as 50 km / h are expected over the combustion area with gusts of up to 70 km / h over 9,000 feet.
Widespread smoke is expected to rise in Loveland and into the Denver subway area on Saturday, and air quality in the Fort Collins area is expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups until Sunday brings some expected clearing.
Wildfire cards: Traces of smoke, fire from Cameron Peak Fire
While daytime highlights in the fire area cool to Monday, there is little chance of precipitation in the National Weather Service’s expanded forecast, meaning “almost critical” fire activity is expected in the coming days.
Cameron Peak Fire Activity Update: Fire Reaches Buckhorn Road
Updated mapping released Friday night shows the fire reached Buckhorn Road north of Masonville and threw a spot fire near the northernmost point of Otter Road to the east. Additional information about the fire’s Friday spread was not available until 6 p.m. 8 Saturday.
Expected another day of “extreme fire behavior and rapid spreading speeds,” incident commands ordered an additional 200 engines to protect structures as firefighters grew to 1,330 people Friday night.
The fire contained 57%, but its continued growth to the southeast threatens mountain communities, including Glen Haven and Drake along Big Thompson Canyon.
Catch up: Big Thompson Canyon ordered evacuation Friday
The fire has burned at least 100 structures since the ignition more than two months ago, though damage assessment teams expect the number to grow after this week’s significant fire activity. The cause of the fire is believed to stem from human activity, but remains under investigation.
Northwest of Cameron Peak Fire, Mullen Fire, burning in southern Wyoming and northeastern Jackson County, has grown to 176,840 acres with 53% inclusion from the last report. The fire has damaged 66 structures and the cause remains under investigation.
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