By Nia Bender
COLORADO – The Cameron Peak Fire in Larimer County has now grown to be the largest in Colorado’s history. 70-degree temperatures and the high wind drove the flames into areas it hasn’t been since it started back on August 13th. Well over 164,100 acres are scorched and it remains about 56% contained.
New evacuations were ordered on Wednesday and the blaze reached the northern tip of the Storm King Mountain area and it’s just a few miles away from Horsetooth Reservoir, just west of Fort Collins. The fire grew roughly 20,000 acres in a 24-hour period.
On Wednesday, those sustained winds between 40-60 mph pushed the fire east and south, fire officials said, but officials were mostly successful in keeping the fire south of the Buckhorn 44H Road. Their main focus Wednesday night was structure protection for the next 48 hours in the Retreat, Glen Haven, and Storm Mountain Cedar Park areas.
Evacuations on Wednesday focused on the Larimer County foothills: County Road 27 (the Buckhorn Road) from County Road 44H south to Masonville; Otter Road (Buckskin Heights) and County Road 52E from County Road 27 east (including County Road 41 and Stratton Park); Glen Haven, Glen Haven Retreat, Storm Mountain and Palisade Mountain; the Redstone Canyon area; Bobcat Ridge Natura Area, Masonville, Horsetooth Mountain Park, Overhill Drive, Milner Mountain, and all of Rist Canyon Road, including Stratton Park, and Lory State Park.
Voluntary evacuations were also ordered for people in the area of Highway 34 from Drake to just west of the Dam Store. The highway was shut down in both directions between Loveland and Estes Park to help with evacuations.
An American Red Cross evacuation center has been opened at the Embassy Suites in Loveland, located at 4705 Clydesdale Parkway. The Red Cross has also set up a new phone line (800-417-0495) for evacuees to call for information. Those affected can also go to the Hilton Garden Inn at 821 E. Harmony Rd. in Fort Collins, where volunteers will assist whoever is in need.
There are currently 1,011 firefighters working on the Cameron Peak Fire and crews from all over the state are sending crews to help. For reference, The Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction burned over 139,000 acres about a month ago. The Hayman Fire in 2002, burned over 137,000 acres.