What we know Sunday: Cameron Peak Fire officials lift some mandatory evacuation orders – Coloradoan

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Sarah Kyle
 
| Fort Collins Coloradoan

Editor’s note: The Coloradoan is making this story free to all readers in the interest of public safety. Please support our work to keep Northern Colorado informed by subscribing via the link at the top of this page.

The Cameron Peak Fire surpassed 200,000 acres after high winds drove significant fire growth Friday and Saturday, claiming more homes as it swelled. 

But winds died down Saturday evening, and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said he expects Sunday “to be a day for offensive firefighting.”

The fire is 203,253 acres and 62% contained, according to the incident command site InciWeb.

Here are the latest updates from Sunday: 

Cameron Peak Fire officials lifted the following mandatory evacuation orders Sunday: 

  • Manhattan Road
  • Shambhala Center
  • Larimer County Road 103 from the Tunnel Campground north

Residents can “return home with no restrictions” but must have proper identification to be allowed back into the area.  “We also ask that you use caution driving, as fire equipment and utility equipment will remain in the area,” an emergency alert stated.

Mandatory evacuations were downgraded to voluntary evacuations in the following areas: 

  • Larimer County Road 27 (south of Masonville) east to Devil’s Backbone
  • Pinewood Reservoir to Flatiron Reservoir

Only residents will be allowed those areas, and residents will need proper identification to reenter.

– Sarah Kyle

Cameron Peak Fire crews worked through the night to get lines around a spot fire east of Larimer County Road 27 that “became very active” flared up to 2,400 acres Saturday, operations section chief Paul Delmerico said in a video update Sunday. 

Delmerico said the fine fuels in the area, coupled with Saturday’s high winds, hampered firefighters efforts in the area Saturday. With that combination of grass fuels and wind, “fire becomes almost impossible to suppress, even with aircraft,” Delmerico said. “And due to the winds yesterday and the critical fire weather, we were unable to fly for most of the day.”

Resources were moved to structure protection and suppression efforts in the area, and crews worked “through the night on that,” Delmerico said. They were able to hold the spot fire west of Larimer County Road 25E and “got around about three-quarters of it with direct hand lines and heavy equipment, utilizing dozers to get around that spot.”

Sunday’s efforts will focus on a portion on the northwest side of the spot fire, which crews weren’t able to access overnight. 

“We couldn’t see it,” Delmerico said. “It was steep, rugged terrain with thick fuels. Today we’re focusing a lot of our efforts in that area.

“It’s very vital for us to be able to put this spot fire in check and have that contained hopefully by the end of shift is our goal. It is a priority for the fire, because that ends up really putting us behind the curve a little bit as far as focusing our efforts into these areas.”

The portion of the fire’s edge along the Larimer County Road 44H (Buckhorn Road) also continues to be a priority, Delmerico said. Firefighters hope to “really have a solid containment line” in that area by the end of Sunday’s shift to keep the fire from moving north from that area, he said, adding that Sunday’s weather will help those efforts.

“There’s a lot of values up risk to the north,” he said.

Crews were able to do “a lot of good suppression actions” Saturday in the areas of Storm Mountain, Cedar Park, Glen Haven and The Retreat, Delmerico said. 

Following a request by Cameron Peak Officials to the state of Colorado for 72-hour emergency support, state surge engines arrived on scene Saturday and assisted in the Buckskin Heights area by the 2,400-acre spot fire as well as in Glen Haven and the surrounding communities. 

Delmerico said containment lines on the west and north sides of of the fire continue to hold, with “no movement, no imminent threats.”

Crews continue to mitigate hazards in the Colorado Highway 14 area, he said, but “we’re feeling really good about where we’re at with that.”

There was “no movement at all” in the Rocky Mountain National Park area of the fire, Delmerico said.

The area continues to be monitored, but Delmerico said fire officials don’t expect any movement in the area and have not stationed resources in it due to its steep, rugged terrain.

– Sarah Kyle

Story continues below

play

Cameron Peak Fire Update: Watch Sunday Oct. 18 firefighting briefing

Watch Sunday Oct. 18 firefighting briefing

U.S. Highway 34 west of Loveland is now open in both directions between Loveland and Estes Park after closing due to the Cameron Peak Fire and evacuations along the U.S. 34 corridor. 

Fire officials warned that “safety closures can still occur at anytime, as crews continue to contain the fire. Use caution in the area.”

– Sarah Kyle

A pressure system has moved into the Cameron Peak Fire area, bringing with it a chance of light rain and snow, the Cameron Peak Fire incident command team said in a written update Sunday morning

Winds are also expected to be reduced, with 10-15 mph winds and up to 20 mph wind gusts expected on the eastern edge of the fire.

“Fire managers will take advantage of this weather change to utilize aircraft and employ aggressive fire suppression actions,”  the update states. “Although weather conditions are expected to moderate, significant fire activity along unsecured line will continue to be a concern.”

A spot fire located about one mile east of the main fire expanded towards Masonville Saturday, growing to 2,400 acres. 

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office is conducting structure assessments to identify losses and damages and will notify homeowners when those assessments are done. 

“Information on structure damage will be released once it is safe for teams to enter the burn area and make their assessments,” the update states.

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said in a Facebook post earlier Sunday morning that homes along the upper portion of Otter Road and on the western portion of upper Redstone Canyon were burned because of the spot fire east of Larimer County Road 27.

Smith also confirmed “the fire did consume some homes overnight (Friday) and through the day on Saturday” in The Retreat in Glen Haven and said he “heard of home loss on the western part of Storm Mountain.”

In addition to structure assessments, fire crews will continue structure protection and mitigation work as well as building direct and indirect containment lines in various areas of the fire. 

There are 1,542 personnel working the fire Sunday.

– Sarah Kyle

The Cameron Peak Fire is now 203,253 acres and 62% contained, according to the incident command site InciWeb.

That’s just nearly 3,900 acres bigger than measurements shared by the incident command team Saturday evening.

– Sarah Kyle

More homes were lost in the Cameron Peak Fire’s latest push over the weekend, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said in a Sunday morning Facebook post detailing firefighting efforts as the fire grew to nearly 200,000 acres Friday and Saturday.

Smith, who said he spent Friday night with firefighters on the south end of the fire, confirmed “the fire did consume some homes overnight (Friday) and through the day on Saturday” in The Retreat in Glen Haven.

Smith did not release how many homes were lost in the area, but said “thankfully (the fire) did not race through the subdivision.” 

He said air resources were able to assist firefighters in the area after winds died down Saturday. 

“I also witnessed the arrival of portatanks, hose lays and sprinkler to assist in structure protection in that neighborhood as needed,” Smith wrote. “When I came down from Estes, I also met a convoy of trucks bringing the equipment to establish a fire retardant base in Estes Park for the heavy helicopters working in Glen Haven.” 

Homes were also burned along the upper portion of Otter Road and on the western portion of upper Redstone Canyon after winds caused a spot fire east of Larimer County Road 27 to grow “substantially” Friday. 

That spot fire’s growth is what triggered the reimplementation of evacuation orders in Rist Canyon “because Redstone Canyon leaders right into upper Rist Canyon,” Smith wrote. 

Relaying a conversation with Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint, Smith said a engines and hand crews were actively engaging the spot fire Saturday, and Poudre Fire Authority crews were also patrolling east of the spot fire “to assure that it couldn’t spot and get established further east.”

Smith said he also “heard of home loss on the western part of Storm Mountain, but at this time, I have no solid estimates to share.” 

The evacuation of the neighborhood to the west of Devil’s Backbone was caused by the fire’s run down to the Masonville Post Office and across Larimer County Road 27, Smith wrote. 

“The good news is that once the fire got into that area, it arrived on terrain that is much friendlier to firefighters,” Smith said, adding that crews were able to stop the fire there. 

After Calwood Fire sparked in northern Boulder County, some Cameron Peak Fire crews working the northern areas of the fire were redeployed to help with the CalWood Fire, “as we realized just how devastating that fire was,” Smith wrote. As of Saturday evening, that fire was just over 7,000 acres.

Smith said he coordinated with Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle to ensure Estes Park residents and Rocky Mountain National Park would have a safe path to evacuate if needed. 

“Does all of this sound a bit crazy? It was,” Smith wrote.

“With that said, the winds died down around 6 p.m. as predicted and things settled down around sunset. Today is a new day and I expect it to be a day for offensive firefighting.”

As of measurements shared Saturday evening, the Cameron Peak Fire is 199,356 acres and 62% contained.

– Sarah Kyle

Sarah Kyle is a content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact her at [email protected] Support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

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