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Wildfires burn over a combined 180,000 acres in Colorado

Photo of the Pine Gulch Fire burning near Grand Junction on Aug. 17, 2020.
Photo of the Pine Gulch Fire burning near Grand Junction on Aug. 17, 2020.(KKCO/KJCT)
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 11:35 AM CDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Amidst roughly 94 percent of Colorado experiencing drought conditions, four wildfires spread across the state have burned at least 180,000 acres. This figure will continue to grow as containment levels remain low and unfavorable conditions are being forecasted across the fire zones.

PINE GULCH FIRE

The largest of the fires in the state is burning 18 miles north of Grand Junction, and as of Friday morning has burned 124,934 acres. The fire started from lightning on July 31, and nearly 900 fire personnel are assigned to the fire. The fire is the second-largest in state history and is 17% contained. The northwest portion of the fire has been extremely active, burning critically dry fuel on cliff faces and down into drainages, making on the ground efforts difficult. The fire grew over 37,000 acres on Tuesday night and forced the closure of Highway 139.

GRIZZLY CREEK FIRE

Burning near Glenwood Springs is the highest priority fire in the United States, the Grizzly Creek Fire. The fire has shut down I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Gypsum since it sparked on August 10. The fire has burned 29,992 acres, and is 11% contained. Several residents have had to evacuate their homes due to the proximity to the flames, and several more are on pre-evacuation orders. Drought conditions coupled with rugged and steep terrain have made this fire difficult to fight for ground crews.

CAMERON PEAK FIRE

The Cameron Peak Fire is burning roughly 60 miles west of Fort Collins and 15 miles southwest of Redfeather Lakes. It started on August 13 and has quickly grown to 16,461 acres and remains 0% contained. Critically dry fuels paired with hot, dry, and windy weather have been driving the rapid fire growth. The cause of this fire has not been determined.

WILLIAMS FORK FIRE

Sparking on August 14, the Williams Fork Fire has grown to 10,288 acres and is only 3% contained. The fire is burning 15 miles southwest of Fraser and has consistently been displaying extreme fire behavior, burning through intensive beetle kill in a relatively remote area. Numerous campgrounds and homes have been evacuated in the area, and fire officials believe the blaze was human-caused.

Smoke from all of these fires has made for hazy conditions all across the state. Roughly 30% of Colorado counties are under an Air Quality Advisory, and these conditions will continue in the week to come.

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