Cameron Peak Fire Reaches Shambhala Mountain Center

This is a poignant moment for everyone with a heart connection to SMC. We will be updating this post as new information comes to light. 


The Cameron Peak Fire has been burning since August 13th, and covers an area of 120,251 acres. Michael Gayner, the Executive Director of Shambhala Mountain Center, released an update late yesterday (September 26, 2020), writing that the fire has reached SMC. It is unclear what has burned, but Gayner writes that “some structures have survived.”

Cory Carlson, an official with the fire management team, said that there is “some impact into the Shambhala area.”

According to InciWeb, the perimeter of the fire is 25% under control. Temperatures are below freezing tonight, which should slow the spread of the fire, however the Cameron Peak Fire is expected to worsen later this week amid hot and dry weather.

Shambhala Mountain Center staff were evacuated on September 21st and are safely out of reach of the blaze, which so far has not been responsible for any deaths.

After weeks of threat—and hope of containment—the fire broke into the land sometime late Saturday. During the day the fire spread dramatically. “Once the sun came out, [and] once the wind started blowing, it didn’t take long,” said Carlson, for it to “spread east across Manhattan Road” towards Shambhala Mountain Center.

In a “broadcast of the firefighters talking about their work,” writes Michael Gayner, “the radio exchanges include descriptions of firefighters going to our temple, working with the fire hydrants, and describing the fire having moved to the Scouts Ranch to the east. As details become clearer, I will share them.” Gayner’s updates can be accessed here.

Fire crews have been fighting the blaze during the night doing structure protection as part of an 848 person team. They continue to work heavy equipment to fight the spread of the blaze, which has become the third largest wildfire in Colorado’s history.

In 2012, Shambhala Mountain Center was threatened by the High Park Fire, but it survived the event without any physical damage.

Watch the video below for the Cameron Peak Fire Evening Operations Update for September 26, 2020.

A Message from Dzigar Kongtul Rinpoche

Dear Noble Sangha and Friends,

We have just received news that the Cameron Peak fire has indeed gone through Shambhala Mountain Center. While the full extent of damage is not yet known, this news is terribly sad and fills me with a sense of great loss. At the same time, I also feel that the blessings of the land are indestructibly imbued there, and these cannot be destroyed or burnt away. Likewise, the memories of so many, over so many years, having received teachings from the Vidyadhara Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, along with many other great masters, will live on in our hearts, and these also cannot be consumed in fire.

With this, I am very hopeful that, as this fire has had its way, we as a human spirit will now have our way, and reignite great determination and confidence to make this place of dharma a beacon of hope and a spiritual home, now more so than ever before.

Please join me in prayers for Shambhala Mountain Center to be just this, and that it shines bright and steady in the vision of the Great Eastern Sun.

With all my love,
Kongtrul Rinpoche