By Jeff Todd

LARIMER COUNTY, COLORADO (CBS4) – The cause of the Cameron Peak Fire is still unknown. In one week it was grown to 15,738 acres, but Forest Service investigators are hoping the public can help with information on what might have started the fire.

(credit: Korey Buck)

“We were up hiking the American Lakes Trail checking out Snow Lake,” said Korey Buck who was hiking on Aug. 13. “Basically headed up there to look for some moose. Found the moose and then we also got a little extra excitement with the fire.”

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Buck says he hiked upwards of 50 miles in the mountains off of Highway 14. He hoped the first black puff of smoke was a diesel engine. As it grew, he knew he needed to call emergency responders.

“I just called it in saying ‘I’m pretty sure that’s a fire.’ But my concern with it was that it started with black smoke, and then it started to grow, and that’s why I called it in,” He said.

Buck saw the request from the Forest Service for photos or information on the Cameron Peak Fire’s start. He submitted his photos immediately.

(credit: Korey Buck)

In a press release the USFS said, “If anyone took photos of the Cameron Peak Fire from the trails located south of Cameron Peak, please email them to SM.FS.usfsarp@usda.gov. The most helpful photos would be those taken of active fire adjacent to any of the adjacent trails, especially of smoke and flames located near these trails. If you have other information to share, you can call 307-745-2392, option 5, and leave your name and call back number so law enforcement can contact you.“

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“After we were driving we could watch it actually come over the mountain which was quite intense,” Buck said about the fire. “It’s unfortunate. It’s devastating to that area it’s beautiful and it just kind of sucks.”

(credit: Korey Buck)

On Wednesday, the Forest Service said in an email to CBS4, “If you were recreating south of Cameron Peak on Thursday, Aug. 13, the Forest Service wants to hear from you! Did you see or hear anything suspicious? Did you see anyone building a campfire? Did you see or hear shooting or exploding targets? This information can help the agency determine the origin and cause of the fire and recover suppression and recovery costs.”

The agency added,

The public plays a valuable role in preventing wildfires.

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  • More than 95 percent of wildfires are contained in the first few hours, meaning tens of thousands of fires are extinguished before becoming large wildfires.
  • On average, human-caused wildfires make up 87 percent of all wildfire occurrences annually. Many of these wildfires occur close in proximity to roadways, communities and recreational areas, posing considerable threat to public safety.
  • Taking individual responsibility to reduce flammable material around homes and communities before a fire occurs can help keep property, the public, and firefighters safe.
  • Creating a buffer between your home and trees, shrubs, or other wildland areas, is essential to improving your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. Not only does this space help slow or stop the spread of wildfire, it also provides a safe place for firefighters to defend your home if condi­tions allow.

The fire has burned 15,738 acres. It is not contained.

Jeff Todd