A family camping in the area where the fire started claims they were the first to call 911.
From Nate and Cindi Johnson's backyard you can see the huge plume of smoke from the High Park Fire.
"It's unbelievable to watch," Nate Johnson said.
The Johnsons say it's surreal because they and their kids were camping on Crystal Mountain Saturday morning.
"I was up the Buckhorn, on Crystal Mountain, and it was the ridge across, Rist. I saw a little bit of a plume," Nate Johnson said.
A 9Wants to Know source says Nate Johnson called 911 at 5:54:46 a.m. and a page went out to emergency services less than one minute later at 5:55 a.m.
"And then about an hour later, I called back because nobody was up there yet. And I know the terrain. It's pretty rough terrain to get up there," Nate Johnson said.
Cindi Johnson snapped her first photo of the fire at 9:31 a.m., more than three-and-a-half hours after the first 911 call.
Johnson took 77 photos of the fire as it grew throughout Saturday morning and afternoon.
Doug Myers, who owns property about half-a-mile from where the fire started, says he saw planes in the air by 9 a.m. and the first aerial drop by 9:30 a.m.
Other witnesses also reported seeing aircraft shortly after 9 a.m. and firefighters on the ground before that.
At 11:22 a.m., the Johnsons took a photo of the first aircraft they saw over the fire, five hours after Nate Johnson first called 911.
Another photo at 11:27 a.m. shows the fire exploded out of control.
"It turned into a monster. Planes did everything they could but the retardant wasn't helping it. No way," Nate Johnson said.
By 1:17 p.m. a photo of the raging fire shows there no stopping the beast as it ate up acre after acre.
"We watched 300 foot flames from 80 foot trees," Nate Johnson said.
Johnson broke down in tears as she reflected on what happened in the days to come.
More than 100 homes damaged or destroyed, at least person dead, and thousands of acres of forest up in smoke.
What they witnessed Saturday is devastating for the Johnsons, who watched the fire grow from a puff of smoke into an inferno.
9Wants to Know has requested copies of Johnson's 911 calls but Larimer County is not releasing them at this time.
If you have a tip for Will Ripley of any of our 9Wants to Know investigators, blow the whistle by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)