Cameron Peak fire nears Rocky Mountain National Park, defense set up

Crews fighting the Cameron Peak fire 40 miles west of Fort Collins are mounting defensive measures to protect Rocky Mountain National Park from the blaze that has grown to more than 14,000 acres. As of Tuesday morning, officials said the burn area was within 5 miles of the park’s northern boundary, although that includes fires that were deliberately set in containment efforts.

“We intentionally used some burnout operations on the southern side of the fire (Monday), putting fire on the ground to be able to consume some of the grasses, vegetation and trees that stand between the fire’s edge and what we are now starting to use as some fire lines and fuel breaks,” said Kristie Salzmann, a spokeswoman for the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

Officials of Rocky Mountain National Park went to the incident command post on Tuesday for discussions “to ensure their needs are met in the same respects we have been working for other entities so far,” Salzmann said.

The fire also threatens the Cameron Pass area, a spectacular place for backcountry skiing, according to the daily update from the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

RELATED:  Latest on the Pine Gulch, Grizzly Creek, Cameron Peak and Williams Fork fires

Rocky Mountain National Park reported poor visibility on Trail Ridge Road on Monday, prompting closure of the Alpine Visitor Center due to “air quality issues.” The Alpine Visitor Center is about 10 miles from the southern edge of the fire.

The fire is 0% contained, and 400 personnel are engaged in the firefighting effort with more requested, according to the daily incident report. Winds predicted to be from the north on Tuesday had the potential to move the fire closer to the park, helping crews make the decision to build fire containment lines on the fire’s southern edge. Isolated dry thunderstorms are possible in the area, according to weather reports.

This is a rapidly changing story and will be updated as more information is released.

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