Cameron Peak Fire spreads south and east

The fire is west of Fort Collins, Colorado

Updated October 18, 2020   |   7:52 a.m. MDT

The map above shows the perimeter of the Cameron Peak Fire collected by a USFS fixed wing aircraft at 9:47 p.m. MDT Oct. 17, 2020. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Processed by Wildfire Today. The preliminary mapped size was 203,251 acres, a number that may be fine-tuned later.

Updated October 17, 2020   |   12:50 p.m. MDT

We are trying something new on Wildfire Today — creating a Google Map containing the perimeter of the Cameron Peak Fire. One of the main differences from our usual maps is that you can zoom in to see more detail. But keep in mind the perimeter is the approximate location, and can rapidly change as the fire spreads. The data came, as usual, from an overnight USFS fixed wing mapping flight. Let us know your thoughts about this type of map.

Updated October 17, 2020   |   7:53 a.m. MDT

Cameron Peak Fire map
Map of the active part of the Cameron Peak Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 9:58 p.m. MDT October 15, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Strong winds throughout Friday night pushed the Cameron Peak Fire to the south and east. After 7 p.m. sustained wind speeds at the Colorado State University Mountain Campus weather station were from the west-southwest at 23 to 39 mph gusting at 35 to 66 mph.

Extreme fire behavior and spotting a mile ahead has been reported by firefighters. Approximately 31,220 structures are threatened.

In light of the strong winds, the incident management team ordered an additional 200 structural fire engines with associated supervisory personnel.

Since the fire started August 13, four residences and 96 other structures have been destroyed.

A fixed wing aircraft mapping flight at 10:20 p.m. Friday showed the fire edge had spread about two miles to the south over the previous 24 hours. Satellite overflights around 3 a.m. showed significant additional heat to the south, but the sensors could have been detecting heat in the smoke column, rather than fire on the ground.

The weather forecast for the east side of the fire on Saturday predicts sustained 22 to 28 mph winds out of the west-northwest gusting at 37 to 46 mph. The high temperature should be 60 degrees with 28 percent relative humidity. The wind will decrease after sunset, slowing to 3 to 5 mph out of the south or southwest by 12 p.m.

The mapping flight at 10:20 p.m. Friday estimated the size of the Cameron Peak Fire at 187,537 acres, but that figure may be fine-tuned by the incident management team, especially if they include fire spread that occurred after the flight.

Cameron Peak Fire
Cameron Peak Fire, as seen from the Estes Park YMCA October 16, 2020. InciWeb.

Updated October 16, 2020   |   9 p.m. MDT

Map Cameron Peak Fire Colorado
Map of the Cameron Peak Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 9:58 p.m. MDT October 15, 2020. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 1:24 p.m. MDT October 16, 2020.

The Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins, Colorado has been extremely active on Friday, forcing firefighters to withdraw for their own safety from Miller Creek, The Retreat, and Storm Mountain.

Additional mandatory evacuations were ordered for Highway 34 from the Dam Store to just west of Soul Shine Road. More voluntary evacuations are also in effect. Larimer Emergency Telephone Authority (LETA) has details about the evacuations. NOCOALERT has maps of the areas.

Friday evening the incident management team reported the fire had burned 173,536 acres.

Cameron Peak Fire Colorado smoke
Cameron Peak Fire, from the Estes Park Safeway 10-16-2020. InciWeb.

Since 1 a.m. on Friday the weather has been very favorable for rapid fire spread. Overnight a weather station at the Colorado State University Mountain Campus recorded 30 degrees, relative humidity in the mid-teens, and a 10 mph west wind gusting at 20 to 30 mph.

Conditions worsened after sunrise Friday with temperature in the 50s, humidity remaining in the mid-teens, and 10 to 30 mph southwest to west winds gusting at 22 to 48 mph. By 6 p.m. the wind had calmed a bit — 10 mph with gusts of 20 to 35 mph.

The weather forecast for the east side of the Cameron Peak Fire calls for very strong winds Friday night through 10 p.m. Saturday, 22 to 29 mph out of the west or northwest gusting at 29 to 46 mph. The high temperature will be in the low 60s Saturday and around 50 Sunday. The relative humidity will be around 30 percent Saturday and in the high 40s Sunday. These conditions could be favorable to additional spread of the fire to the east Friday night and Saturday.

Breezy conditions take over Sunday at noon through Tuesday with 8 to 10 mph winds out of the west gusting at 17 to 22 mph. The minimum humidity will be around 40 percent.

Cameron Peak Fire Colorado smoke
Cameron Peak Fire by @Apeersenson. Posted at 5:29 p.m. MDT 10-16-2020.
Cameron Peak Fire Colorado satellite photo
Cameron Peak Fire. Satellite photo at 1:51 p.m. MDT 10-16-2020.
smoke forecast Cameron Peak Fire Colorado
Cameron Peak Fire smoke forecast for 11 p.m. Friday 10-16-2020.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “Cameron Peak Fire spreads south and east”

  1. I really like the new mapping. We don’t live there but I have family near there and the news lets know very little, so THANK YOU!!!

  2. The fire grew overnight about 15,000 acres, Inciweb shows it at 187,537 acres this morning. It looks like it’s approaching the Big Thompson Canyon Road (US-34) from the FIRMS website. Red Flag Warning until 6:00 PM (MT).

  3. As Cameron Peak Fire threatens Glen Haven, it brings back vivid memories of fighting my first wildland fire on organized crew. It was 1966. I was enrolled in 12 week forestry summer camp at Pingree Park (CSU) We had just finished our fire training the week before taught by all six of the Colorado State Forest Service field foresters. Was still a small young agency back then. ( I ended up working for CSFS for 47 years). Class was notified that any willing to go fight fire at Glen Haven to be at parking lot by mess hall at 0400. There were about 140 forestry students that loaded up on stake bed trucks for the chilly ride down Buckhorn Canyon to Glen Haven. We were divided into 20 person crews and given a forest service or park service crew boss. I was really impressed with the safety mindedness of our Crew Boss. We had boots, leather gloves, cotton jeans, long sleeve cotton shirt, aluminum hardhat, army surplus canteen on belt and knapsack to carry sack lunch and jacket. Yes, there was a culture of safety even way back then. But MY OH MY; how safety has changed! So has fire behavior. Still a qualified SOF2 and wishing I was could be up at Glen Haven helping.

    1. What a amazing student community that 140 forestry students would volunteer to fight a wildfire! I hope that spirit still lives on. We have been very lucky so far and there has been no loss of life (knock on wood) during this fire. I hope the incident commanders and sheriff can continue that streak. Very sobering to read the articles on this website and hear about the near misses, the deaths of people in the community and fire fighting crews. Although I live on the north side of the fire about 4 miles away from the containment line, it’s really a gut punch to see this fire wipe out forests and homes as it spreads south of me.

  4. As of the 10/16/20 evening update, the Cameron Peak fire has grown to 173,536 acres according to Inciweb with 57% containment. 1,330 personnel are working on the fire also according to Inciweb. The fire started on August 13, 64 days ago, feels like a lifetime ago.


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