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These photos show the intense smoke from Colorado's largest wildfire ever

Oct 17, 2020
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ESTES PARK, Colo. — Firefighters face another day of critical danger Saturday as the Cameron Peak Fire, the biggest wildfire in Colorado history, continues to rage in the mountains west of Fort Collins and Loveland.

The wildfire measured more than 270 square miles Friday night as more strong winds kept firefighting aircraft on the ground and forced evacuations along a highway leading to Rocky Mountain National Park. The fire is 57% contained as of Saturday morning.

A red flag warning predicting another day of gusty winds and low humidity is in place for the fire area through 6 p.m. local time Saturday, when a cold front is expected to move over the Front Range, bringing with it lower daytime highs and reduced winds. 

But first, gusts as high as 50 mph are expected across the burn area, with winds of up to 70 mph above 9,000 feet. Widespread smoke is also expected to increase in Loveland and into the Denver metro area Saturday, and air quality in the Fort Collins area is expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups until Sunday brings some expected clearing.

More: Cameron Peak Fire becomes largest wildfire in Colorado history, growing more than 20,000 acres in a day

The wildfire started in mid-August in the high country 30 miles west of Fort Collins and has persisted despite getting over 1 foot of snow on Labor Day. It was over 50% contained before this week’s flare-ups.

It set the state’s record for the largest fire after strong winds Tuesday night and Wednesday morning caused it to grow by more than 40 square miles.

Wildfire map: Track smoke, fire from Cameron Peak Fire

The fire has burned at least 100 structures, though damage assessment teams expect that number to grow after this week’s significant fire activity. Its cause is believed to stem from human activity, but remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, 25 miles to the north of the Cameron Peak Fire, firefighters were also watching a windy forecast at the Mullen Fire on the Colorado-Wyoming line. That fire has grown to more than 270 square miles and with 53% containment as of the last reporting. It has damaged 66 structures, and its cause remains under investigation. 

Below, these photos show the intensity of smoke as the Cameron Peak Fire rages across

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire covers Fort Collins area sky at on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. One of two Rocky Mountain wildfires fanned by strong winds has become the largest in Colorado history.Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire covers Fort Collins area sky at on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. One of two Rocky Mountain wildfires fanned by strong winds has become the largest in Colorado history.
Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire covers Fort Collins area sky at on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. One of two Rocky Mountain wildfires fanned by strong winds has become the largest in Colorado history.
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows the Cameron Peak Fire that continues to burn and spread dense smoke over the Front Range of northern Colorado on Oct. 16, 2020.This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows the Cameron Peak Fire that continues to burn and spread dense smoke over the Front Range of northern Colorado on Oct. 16, 2020.
This handout satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows the Cameron Peak Fire that continues to burn and spread dense smoke over the Front Range of northern Colorado on Oct. 16, 2020.
A column of smoke rises from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.A column of smoke rises from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
A column of smoke rises from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
Flames from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burn trees along a ridge outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.Flames from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burn trees along a ridge outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
Flames from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, burn trees along a ridge outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
People watch as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky as the fire burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.People watch as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky as the fire burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
People watch as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky as the fire burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire fills the sky outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
A sign informs motorists of a fire ban as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, drifts near Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.A sign informs motorists of a fire ban as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, drifts near Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
A sign informs motorists of a fire ban as smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, drifts near Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
A resident looks out from his porch at the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.A resident looks out from his porch at the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.
A resident looks out from his porch at the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, as it burns outside Estes Park, Colo. on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Cameron Peak Fire: Colorado largest wildfire continues to burn, photos

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