One Year Ago: Cameron Peak Fire Starts, Becomes Colorado’s Largest Wildfire
It was exactly one year ago that we got news of a wildfire burning west of Fort Collins, south of Red Feather. Little did we know what we were in for with the Cameron Peak Fire, which ignited just before 2 p.m. on August 13, 2020.
Cameron Peak Fire burned over 208,000 acres in Larimer and Jackson Counties, destroying portions of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, and 30,000 acres of Rocky Mountain National Park.
According to the Incident Information System, the fire exploded over Labor Day weekend, growing nearly 80,000 acres between September 4 and September 7. If you were in town that weekend, you'll remember day feeling like night, as thick smoke covered the Fort Collins area. I used my snow scraper in my car to remove ash from my windshield.
On September 8, it snowed. Even though nearly two feet fell near the area of the fire, it was only enough to slightly slow the blaze.
InciWeb reported that after two months, on October 14, Cameron Peak Fire officially became the state's largest wildfire in history. Just a week later on October 22, the East Troublesome Fire started and burned adjacently to the Cameron Peak Fire, and became Colorado's second largest fire in history. Hundreds of firefighters from across the country came to Northern Colorado to keep the fires from merging. The entire town of Estes Park was evacuated.
Cameron Peak Fire burned for over 100 days, and was declared 100 percent contained on December 2, 2020. In total, there were 469 structures lost to the Cameron Peak Fire; 224 of those were residential, of which, 42 were primary residences. The Shambhala Mountain Center had damage to or loss of 17 structures.
Sadly, the burn scarring in the area has caused devastating, deadly flash flooding in the Poudre Canyon. You can see photos of the Cameron Peak Fire, below.