DENVER (NewsNation Now) — More people were ordered to evacuate and the main road through Rocky Mountain National Park was closed Sunday because of a wildfire growing in hot, dry and windy weather in northern Colorado as holiday weekend campers were warned to stay away.
Snow in the upcoming forecast for the Rocky Mountain states will provide relief from the conditions that are fueling fires and may even help control the blaze, according to Timberline Fire Chief Paul Ondr.
“Snow helps (fight fires) more than rain and obviously, the more we get the better. If that comes to fruition that’s going to be great. That’s going to buy a couple weeks to a month of pretty decent moisture that soaks into the ground,” Ondr told NewsNation affiliate KDVR.
The Cameron Peak Fire near Red Feather Lakes, which started Aug. 14, exploded to 53.6 square miles — about a 40% increase — on Saturday, spreading in various directions, including into the remote, northern part of Rocky Mountain National Park.
“It’s a dangerous fire,” Russ Long, operations section chief for the Portland National Incident Management Organization firefighting team, said Sunday.
Old Fall River Road, a historic, unpaved road in the park, was closed Saturday because of the fire. On Sunday, the park’s main paved road, Trail Ridge Road, was also closed because of the potential for for heavy smoke and limited visibility. Some trails and wilderness campgrounds in the park were also closed because of the fire activity.
Smoke from the fire drifted east to Colorado’s populated Front Range region, including the Denver area. The state health department warned that the air quality was expected to remain unhealthy for older adults, children and people with lung disease.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.