The Cameron Peak Fire started on Aug. 13 near Cameron Pass northwest of Fort Collins and continues to burn, despite an unusually early snowfall on Sept. 8. The fire, which had consumed more than 102,000 acres, was only 8% contained as of Sept. 16. It has closed portions of Highway 14 through the Poudre Canyon and forced the evacuation of Colorado State University’s Mountain Campus in August.

On Sept. 11, photographer Bill Cotton accompanied a crew from CSU to the Mountain Campus to assess the situation. They found snow on the ground but melting rapidly, and no major changes with the fire behavior, growth or containment. However, warm temperatures, low humidity and stronger winds contributed to greater fire activity over the following week.

Mountain Campus may soon serve as a camp for 40-50 firefighters, including members of the Alpine Hotshots, based in Rocky Mountain National Park, who have been working there since the early days of the Cameron Peak Fire. The National Parks’ Hotshot crews are trained and equipped to work in remote areas for extended periods of time. They have been working at the Mountain Campus protecting structures there and scouting line locations on the south edge of the fire.

Firefighters have focused on direct line construction and mop up along Buckhorn Road and Comanche Lake section of the line; work will continue on other sections of the fire, but surge forces will be focused in on the Buckhorn/Pingree Park area.

The Cameron Peak Fire smoke plume descends on Horsetooth Reservoir on Sept. 7.

Mountain campus sign

Early snow slows the progress of the Cameron Peak Fire toward the Colorado State University Mountain Campus on Sept. 11.

CSU Emergency Manager Ken Quintana and Mountain Campus Director Seth Webb check the protective measures firefighters put in place to protect the campus from the Cameron Peak Fire.

Cooperators and land owners are given a safety briefing at Ted’s Place before entering areas affected by the Cameron Peak Fire.

The Cameron Peak Fire on the Pingree Park Road is cooled by recent snowfall, but not out.

A fallen tree continues to burn along the Pingree Park road after snowfall.