The Cameron Peak fire is expected to burn through the Colorado State University Mountain Campus on Friday as the wildfire continues to spread in hot, dry weather.
The fire is “very active” on Friday after a fifth consecutive night of “low humidity and little moisture recovery for vegetation,” fire officials said in a news release.
The fire is expected to grow Friday afternoon with “increased smoke pushing to the south.”
Joyce McConnell, president of CSU, reached out on social media Friday to express sympathy about the likelihood of the fire burning through the university’s mountain campus.
“Please join me in sending all of your thoughts and positive energy to those extraordinary members of our community who have been working this fire,” McConnell said on Twitter.
The Mountain Campus hosts “research projects in a variety of academic disciplines, including wildlife biology, forestry, watershed science, biology and renewable energy,” according to its website.
Firefighters have installed fire protection apparatus on the campus, including hoses, portable water reservoirs, and sprinklers, McConnell said. Fire crews bunking down on the campus have evacuated, but firefighters battling the fire do remain in the area.
The fire, burning in the mountains of Larimer County, has scorched 131,231 acres, or 205 square miles, since starting on Aug. 13, according to InciWeb.
The Cameron Peak fire is the third largest wildfire in Colorado history in terms of acres burned. The 2002 Hayman fire burned 137,760 acres placing it second on the list. This year’s Pine Gulch fire is number one having burned 139,007 acres.
In late September, the Cameron Peak fire burned around the landmark Great Stupa at a Buddhist retreat near Red Feather Lakes. Several outbuildings at the Shambhala Mountain Center were destroyed, but the Great Stupa was spared, in part, because of advance fire mitigation.
On Thursday, mandatory evacuations were ordered by the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office for residents in Pingree Park and Monument Gulch. On Friday morning evacuation orders were given for residents along Buckhorn Road to Stove Prairie Road, fire officials said. A portion of fire burning above Comanche Reservoir was quickly moving east.
A red flag warning, for extreme fire weather conditions, is posted for the Cameron Peak fire through 7 p.m. Friday. Temperatures on Friday were expected to climb into the lower 70s, with about 10% relative humidity and winds gusting up to 25 mph. Elevated fire weather is also expected Saturday.
Dense smoke from the fire is drifting into Fort Collins, Red Feather Lakes and other surrounding communities.
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