Colorado wildfires: What to know Tuesday, September 22

State
Fighting the Cameron Peak Fire Monday, September 21. This photo was taken from just off Manhattan Road. / Courtesy Cameron Peak Fire Information

Fighting the Cameron Peak Fire Monday, September 21. This photo was taken from just off Manhattan Road. / Courtesy Cameron Peak Fire Information

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Cameron Peak Fire grew significantly on Sunday, forcing new evacuations. Here’s the latest information on that fire and others burning across Colorado.

Cameron Peak Fire

The Cameron Peak Fire in the mountains west of Fort Collins grew more than 1,500 acres on Sunday, thanks to 35 mph winds and heavy, dry fuels. As of Tuesday morning, the fire has burned 104,530 acres and is 15% contained.

The growth prompted new mandatory evacuation orders for Red Feather and Crystal Lakes, along with voluntary evacuation orders for other areas.

According to the Tuesday morning update, firefighters are working day and night shifts on the fire. Monday, large air tankers dropped retardant to flank the fire and prepare for night shift. Working during the night buys time as cooler temperatures and less wind moderate fire behavior.

Because the fire has burned into more favorable terrain, large air tankers will continue to drop retardant to slow advancement.

The elevated fire weather conditions continue to present hazardous conditions because of potential outflow winds in the afternoon. Although some rain is predicted, the chances of the rain over the fire area remain low.

A total of 839 people are fighting the fire, which has been burning since August 13. There’s no word yet on the cause.

Middle Fork Fire

The Middle Fork Fire about 10 miles north of Steamboat Springs is at 6,187 acres as of Tuesday morning. No containment has been reported.

According to Tuesday’s update, there has been no notable movement on the eastern perimeter for some days. The fire continues to work its way downslope and upwind through timber stands on the ridges north and south of Middle Fork drainage. Single-tree and group torching events peak in the late afternoons.

Light smoke rises from Middle Fork drainage Sunday morning, September 20. / Courtesy Middle Fork Fire Information
Light smoke rises from Middle Fork drainage Sunday morning, September 20. / Courtesy Middle Fork Fire Information

Incident managers have identified areas of lighter fuels, meadows, and rocky terrain to the west, northwest, and south of the fire. Crews aim to take advantage of these types of natural features that offer a higher probability of successful containment. Old burn scars to the north and the Continental Divide to the east offer significant natural barriers to limit fire spread in those directions.

Firefighters’ objective is to fully contain the Middle Fork Fire, while keeping public and firefighter safety as the highest priority. The fire’s location, heavy fuels, and hazardous conditions limit options for direct attack.

The onset of fall, with shorter days and cooler temperatures, and recent higher humidity tend to calm fire behavior. However, gusty winds can cause flare-ups and toss burning embers into unburned fuels. Crews are alert for changes, keeping helicopters ready for action when weather allows them to fly. 

A total of 96 people are fighting the fire. Investigators have determined it was caused by lightning.

Grizzly Creek Fire

The Grizzly Creek Fire near Glenwood Springs is holding steady at 32,431 acres, with 91% containment as of Monday night.

Monday, firefighters used a helicopter to help keep fire activity in Grizzly Creek from expanding up the drainage. With warm weather forecast through the week, firefighters expect similar fire and firefighting activity around the upper Grizzly Creek drainage.

The fire is not currently growing, but it is putting up smoke along the uncontained line in the steep, rugged drainage.

A total of 18 people are fighting the fire, which started August 10.

Investigators believe the fire was human-caused.

Williams Fork Fire

The Williams Fork Fire in Grand County is at 12,320 acres, with 16% containment as of Monday morning.

The fire started August 14 and is believed to be human-caused. A total of 64 people are fighting the fire.

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