Warm, dry weather continues its grip in northern Colorado and the extreme conditions continue to stoke multiple wildfires while raising air quality concerns.
Potential spreading and growth of the Cameron Peak and Mullen fires remain “very high with little change in forecast weather conditions over the next three days,” according to fire officials.
Cameron Peak fire
The Cameron Peak fire, burning in Larimer County since Aug. 13, has scorched 128,149 acres, about 200-square miles, and it is 42% contained as of Wednesday morning, fire officials said.
On Tuesday firefighters discovered a new spot fire outside the containment line on the northwest side of the fire. Crews quickly worked in that area, forming a line around the spot and stopping its growth after just “a couple of acres,” fire command said in a Wednesday morning update.
Fire crews on Tuesday worked in Rocky Mountain National Park, on the Colorado State University Mountain Campus, and in an area between Beaver Creek and Comanche Reservoir.
Two massive smoke columns, fueled by the weather, developed Tuesday in interior sections of the fire. Major smoke plumes are expected again on Wednesday and into the weekend.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued an air quality health advisory for northern Colorado through 4 p.m. Wednesday because of wildfire smoke.
The alert area includes all of the Eastern Plains north of Interstate 70, the Front Range from the Wyoming state line to Castle Rock, and it extends into the mountains from Georgetown north to the state line.
Smoke has been moderate to heavy Wednesday morning in areas of northeastern and north central Colorado and forecasters expect the smoke to linger throughout the day, “especially for locations along the Platte River Valley,” according to the National Weather Service.
The Mullen fire, burning 38 miles west of Laramie, Wyo., and over the state line into north central Colorado, has scorched 161,151 acres, almost 252-square miles, as of Wednesday morning, according to fire officials. The massive fire, which started on Sept.17, is 14% contained.
Weather conditions at the Mullen fire are similar to Cameron Peak fire conditions. Mullen fire officials expect the fire to be active on Wednesday as it burns through dead and downed timber in unseasonably warm and dry weather. Winds at the Mullen fire were light Wednesday morning, but wind gusts are expected to climb into the 20 mph range during the afternoon. Winds on Thursday are expected to increase, into the 25 to 30 mph range.
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