Cameron Peak fire: More than 1,000 firefighters battle 252-square-mile blaze – The Denver Post

The Cameron Peak fire — the biggest wildfire in Colorado history — has burned 161,140 acres, about 252-square miles, as of Thursday morning. More than 1,000 firefighters are working on the massive blaze, which is 56% contained.

Driven by strong winds, as high as 76 mph gusts, on Wednesday the fire sprinted east engulfing nearly 23,000 new acres.

“Yesterday we had a really busy day,” said Paul Delmerico, operations section chief of the Cameron Peak fire, at a Thursday morning briefing.

Fire containment lines on the north side of the fire held strong on Wednesday, Delmerico said, and structure protection efforts remain a priority north of the fire in Red Feather Lakes, Glacier View and other communities.

A combination of wind, open terrain and dry fuels lead to Wednesday’s “substantial run” east, Delmerico said. On Thursday firefighters will concentrate on trying to keep the east flank of the fire south of Buckhorn Road and west of County Road 27.

Thursday morning’s weather, cooler temperatures, less wind and cloudy skies, is helping firefighters, said Michelle Kelly, a public information officer.

“Right now, the weather is cooperating,” Kelly said. “We do expect changes, including another significant wind event.”

Strong winds, with gusts up to 60 mph, are possible in areas of Larimer County above 10,000 in elevation on Friday night and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

The upcoming weather is expected to remain mostly dry, with just a slight chance for a little moisture.

“We are not expecting any significant precipitation in the near future,” Kelly said.

Smoke from the wildfire continues to cause health concerns in the area, including along the Front Range.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has again issued an Action Day for Particulates through 4 p.m. Thursday. Areas under the posting are: Douglas, Jefferson, Denver, western Arapahoe, western Adams, Broomfield, Boulder, Larimer, and Weld counties.

“Periods of moderate to heavy smoke from the Cameron Peak wildfire will continue for Larimer County on Thursday, including Ft. Collins,” the CDPHE said. “Further south in the Longmont, Denver and Boulder areas, smoke levels are expected to be lighter.”

The health department urges people to reduce their time outdoors as smoke increases in the area.

On Thursday the U.S. Forest Service shut down the entire Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest because of the fire. The district is about 650,000 acres and the shutdown order includes lands south of U.S. Highway 34.

“This closure impacts numerous recreation sites, including all campgrounds, trails, and Forest Service Roads,” according to a news release. The closure, for fire safety concerns, will affect hunting in the area.

The Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association on Thursday, at the request of fire incident command, turned off power to the Cedar Park area near Glen Haven, north of Drake along U.S. Highway 34. Power was also turned off along Buckhorn Canyon Road including Masonville and the Stove Prairie Elementary School.

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