Cameron Peak fire now largest in Colorado history after winds fuel explosive growth
Wind gusts as high as 76 mph fueled explosive growth of the Cameron Peak fire west of Fort Collins on Wednesday, helping push the 2-month-old wildfire across nearly 23,000 new acres and making it the largest in Colorado’s recorded history.
The wildfire, which ignited Aug. 13 and survived more than a foot of early September snowfall, grew to 158,300 acres, or about 247 square miles, on Wednesday, firefighting officials reported in an evening briefing.
The fire remained 56% contained, sending towers of smoke billowing over Fort Collins and much of the northern Front Range throughout the day.
Wednesday’s growth led to new mandatory evacuation orders in the Larimer County foothills, affecting mainly recreational properties — including hundreds of mountain cabins — in and around the communities of Glen Haven and Drake east of Rocky Mountain National Park.
“It was a bad day,” Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said at the evening briefing, “but it very easily could have been a lot worse.”
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VAIL — The lift operator in the maze at Vail Village’s Gondola One tilts his head back and hollers: “Masks up please!”