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Another day of cooperative weather Saturday slowed spread of the Cameron Peak Fire to just 5 acres, and a voluntary evacuation order was lifted Sunday morning.
Still, a red-flag warning was in place Sunday, and wind gusts up to 40 mph were expected to dry out fuels and increase fire behavior, according to a morning update from the Rocky Mountain Incident Command team in charge of managing the fire.
The team also announced Sunday morning that one structure was damaged early on in the fire but only recently discovered: a USFS Greenridge/Lost Lake trailhead outhouse. It is the only known structure damage so far.
The fire now stands at 23,013 acres.
On Sunday, incident managers hosted a virtual Q&A to answer the public’s questions about the fire.
Answering a question about whether the strategy was to let the fire consume beetle-killed trees or to fully suppress the fire, National Incident Management Organization Incident Commander Bea Day reiterated that the strategy is full suppression. However, she said the early conditions on the fire made it difficult to get close.
“There was never intent just to let it go, to consume that, by any means,” Day said. “We always have an eye on for any opportunities that we can to come in closer to the fire to take actions.”
Asked if they believe the fire will reach the fire lines that have been built, Day didn’t offer a yes or a no. “We certainly hope not,” she said, adding that managers are looking for opportunities to mount a defense closer to the fire, in addition to the fire lines already established farther away.
As for how to keep the fire from moving into Rocky Mountain National Park, Operations Chief Russ Long said he’ll meet with park officials Monday to talk it over. One idea is hitting the fire with air resources just as it thins out while moving over a saddle into the park.
The Q&A was recorded and can be watched at www.Facebook.com/CameronPeakFire.
The incident command team reported completion of an indirect fire line across the north side of the fire, connecting Laramie River Road to Highway 14 north and east of the fire.
A natural decrease in fuels on the western side of the fire is holding back growth.
Structure protection is in place on the CSU-Mountain Campus, and the Pingree Park Road has been prepped. Heavy equipment will now move to work on building an indirect fire line along the Crown Point Road, closer to the fire’s perimeter.
Joining the effort will be two hotshot crews, one Type 2 Initial Attack crew, and one 10-person fire module, or approximately 70 firefighters. They are working to connect Crown Point Road to an area above treeline in the Comanche Peak Wilderness.
Also, residents and visitors in the areas of Crystal Lakes, Red Feather Lakes, Glacier View Meadows, along Larimer County Road 27 and on Stove Prairie Road should expect to see increased firefighter presence as they assess structures in those areas.
The voluntary evacuation area that began just west of Stove Prairie Road was lifted due to changing weather, cooling temperatures and low fire behavior, according to a message from Larimer County emergency managers. The evacuation was for the Buckhorn/Pennock Pass area (County Road 44H from Pennock Pass east to County Road 27 as well as residences to the south).
The fire area received less than a tenth of an inch of rain Saturday. Winds on Sunday were forecast to be 15-20 mph, increase in the afternoon and produce gusts up to 40 mph on ridgetops.
Colorado Highway 14 remains closed from Kelly Flats Campground to Gould, and closures are in place within the Arapahoe and Roosevelt national forests.
Rebecca Powell is a content strategist at the Coloradoan, working to connect our community with the answers they seek. Contact her at RebeccaPowell@coloradoan.com. We can’t do the important work of keeping our community informed without you. Support the Coloradoan with a digital subscription.