FORT COLLINS, Colo. — High winds caused the Cameron Peak Fire to flare up and triggered new mandatory evacuations early Wednesday morning.
Gusts up to 60 mph were reported overnight in the fire area, according to the National Weather Service. A high wind warning is in place from 2 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesday with a Red Flag Warning from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Winds are expected to be 45 to 60 mph with gusts up to 80 mph.
Firefighters face two particular areas of concern, according to Cameron Peak Fire officials. The fire has pushed five to 10 miles south and crossed Pingree Park Road on the southeast side of the fire near the Colorado State University Mountain Campus. Their main focus is on structure protection.
A spot fire also popped up on the northeast end of the fire south of Bellaire Lake. Their main concern is to keep the fire from crossing Manhatten Road.
Heavy smoke from the fire is affecting sections of Larimer County.
Satellite Imagery continues to show Cameron Peak fire burning intensely due to strong winds affecting it. Gusts from 50 to 60 mph have been occurring. Please be alert for any evacuation orders. #cofire #cowx #CameronPeakFire pic.twitter.com/uPwHs5gmuT— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 14, 2020
Shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office issued a voluntary evacuation for County Road 27 (the Buckhorn Road) from County Road 44H south to Masonville due to the increasing fire activity.
Within an hour, the evacuation became mandatory.
Around 8:40 a.m., the Larimer County Sheriff's Office issued a voluntary evacuation for Otter Road (Buckskin Heights) and County Road 52E from County Road 27 east, which includes County Road 41 and Stratton Park. Around the same time, the sheriff's office ordered mandatory evacuations for Glen Haven, Glen Haven Retreat, Storm Mountain and Palisade Mountain.
People living along County Road 44H from Pennock Pass east to County Road 27 were evacuated around 8 p.m. Tuesday because of the increased fire activity.
Those being evacuated can call the American Red Cross at 970-324-3211 for shelter assistance, according to the sheriff's office.
View the mandatory evacuations in the map below, or go here for the full list of evacuations and closures.
To sign up for emergency alerts in Larimer County, visit NOCO Alert's website here. For updates for people who have been forced to evacuate, text the word LCEVAC to 888777 from your cell phone.
The #CameronPeakFire in Colorado flared up overnight. Top left is its glow from ~100 miles away. Top right is the smoke plume at sunrise. Lower is #NOAAGlobalSystemsLab #HRRRsmoke prediction at the same time. #COwx #firewx pic.twitter.com/3T22PncUg7— NOAA ESRL (@NOAA_ESRL) October 14, 2020
Larimer County Department of Natural Resources said Horsetooth Mountain Open Space closed around 10 a.m. to the public.
Even with Wednesday morning's flare-up, containment remains at 56% and the fire grew by 596 acres to a total of 135,556 acres.
According to the incident management team for the fire, the fire was very active around 3:20 a.m. Wednesday. The fire's edge jumped Pingree Park Road near the Colorado State University campus in the area. It's expected to continue to move east Wednesday.
Wednesday will bring more critical fire weather, with dry, windy conditions that may increase the fire's spread, according to the NWS. Fire weather watches and warnings are in effect for the Denver metro area, southern foothills, South Park, Palmer Divide and parts of the eastern plains.
The fire was reported on Aug. 13 and the cause remains under investigation.
The Cameron Peak Fire is the third-largest in Colorado history. The state's 10 largest wildfires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 139,007 acres
2. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
3. Cameron Peak Fire (2020): 135,556 acres
4. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
5. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
6. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
7. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
8. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
9. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
10. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.