Cameron Peak Fire In Larimer County Has Burned Down 54 Structures

The Cameron Peak fire continues to burn despite a snow storm
J. Jackson of the Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department
Despite last week’s snowstorm, the fire west of Fort Collins continues to burn. An active hot spot in the Cameron Peak fire is seen in Buckhorn Canyon near Pennock Pass.

The fire burning in Larimer County has destroyed more than 50 buildings, including 25 residences, according to the Larimer County Sheriff Office. 

The snow that fell on the Cameron Peak fire last week has helped stop the expansion of the fire, which has already burned more than 100,000 acres since it ignited a month ago. 

After crews cleared snow, downed power lines and fallen trees, the Larimer County Damage Assessment Team was able to search the fire area and identify the 29 outbuildings and 25 residences -- two of which were primary homes -- that have been destroyed. And two other structures have been damaged. All the owners have all been notified, said Jared Kramer, a spokesman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. 

“We had crews working long, long hours on Thursday and Friday to get the damage assessment team access,” Kramer said. “And then as soon as that was complete and it was safe for us to move the assessment team in, they got to work and got it done in two days.”

He said that officials sympathize and feel for the people who suffered a loss in this fire, but that it could have been much worse. 

“This fire is now significantly larger than the High Park fire was in terms of acreage. But with the number of residences that we've lost, it's significantly smaller than High Park,” Kramer said. 

The High Park fire burned more than 87,000 acres and destroyed 259 homes in Larimer County in 2012. 

The favorable weather conditions over the weekend also helped Cameron Peak firefighters get more information and form plans on how best to battle the blaze. Corey Carlson, with Southwest Team Three, said the clear skies and sun on Saturday was particularly helpful. 

“And what that enabled us to do was to get up in the helicopter and take a really good look of the entire fire and kind of focus in on some of the areas of concern that we had,” Carlson said. 

He said crews also got an aerial view of the fire with infrared devices to pinpoint the hottest areas so that officials could direct ground crew to contain those hot spots. 

Carlson said Sunday the work that they’ve been doing this weekend -- building fire lines, assessing structure protections and making defense plans -- will be ongoing. 

“Everything I mentioned today will continue on for several days, if not weeks. We'll have to go back in and on some of this stuff a second time and make sure that it's still good,” he said. 

Despite the snow, the fire is still smoldering in some places. Kramer said that the area is expecting hot, windy and dry conditions this week.

“We just ask that everybody continues to obey the fire ban and be aware that fire danger is returning to extreme,” he said.

The Cameron Peak fire is burning in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest west of Fort Collins started Aug. 13 and has burned 102,596 acres. It is currently 4 percent contained. There are still evacuations in place and the cause of the fire is under investigation.