A growing Cameron Peak Fire just west of Fort Collins has forced the U.S. Forest Service to close additional parts of the Roosevelt National Forest in Larimer County Monday as the blaze spread to more than 59,000 acres overnight and was just 4% contained.
Depending on winds and temperatures, the wildfire is expected to spread even further into the forest, according to Paul Bruggink, a spokesman for the Cameron Peak fire team. It consumed an additional 10,000 acres of forest land on Saturday and at least as much Sunday while reports of smoke and ash reached south of Denver and into parts of Douglas County. Smoke plumes around the fire reportedly reached up to 40,000 feet into the air.
The blaze is now the seventh largest wildfire in Colorado history.
“It wasn’t totally unexpected,” Bruggink said of the fire’s reach and speed of its spread. More than 800 personnel are working the fire, mostly in structure protection, he said. Only an outhouse has been reportedly destroyed.
An approaching cold front expected into Tuesday with freezing temperatures and snowfall up to 6 inches forecasted for Denver could slow the blaze, but isn’t expected to extinguish it, Bruggink said.
“We won’t call it a season-ending event,” he said. “We would need a bunch of those.”
The area now closed is all National Forest System lands west of the Roosevelt National Forest boundary, east of the Colorado State Forest State Park, south of County Road 80 C, and north of Rocky Mountain Park and Highway 34.
The National Weather Service said the approaching winter storm could break a 148-year-old record for the largest temperature change in a 24-hour period in Denver. That record, set in January 1872, was a 66-degree dive. Tuesday’s storm could see a drop of as much as 70 degrees in just six hours, according to meteorologist Evan Direnzo with the service’s Boulder office.
The forecast calls for as much as 14 inches of snow in the foothills and mountains west of Boulder with the Interstate 25 corridor though Denver expecting as much as 6 inches of wet, heavy snow.
The eastward-moving fire on Sunday caused the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office to issue evacuation orders for parts of the county including areas near Red Feather’s Lakes. Parts of Rocky Mountain National Forest were also closed, including Trail Ridge Road, because of smoke and poor visibility.
The sheriff’s office on Monday morning issued an immediate evacuation order for the Glacier View Meadows area east of the fire.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.