Hot, dry conditions continued to drive growth on several major wildfires around Colorado overnight, with forecasts indicating that there’s no end in sight.
Wildfires have grown in size and frequency over the past two decades, part of significant changes in weather patterns in America’s West as global temperatures rise due to fossil-fuel burning.
Click here to skip to a specific fire: Pine Gulch fire | Grizzly Creek fire | Cameron Peak fire | Williams Fork fire | Wildfire map
Pine Gulch fire
Updated as of 10:30 a.m.
The Pine Gulch fire exploded overnight, growing 42% in size as it now burns across 125,108 acres, or 195 square miles, outside Grand Junction — becoming the second-largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history.
Pre-evacuation orders have been issued to areas of County Road 205, Kimball Mountain Road and County Road 256 in between Kimball Mountain Road and Browns Point, officials said in Wednesday morning news release. Evacuations have been lifted for residents along County Road 204, who live below Brush Creek Road.
Strong outflow winds from a thunderstorm cell overnight caused winds up to 40 mph over several hours, creating “extreme and erratic fire behavior, causing significant growth,” officials said.
“Fire behavior specialists report that the combination of extremely dry fuels, low relative humidity, high temperatures and terrain-driven winds may continue to create extreme fire behavior that is resistant to suppression efforts,” fire officials said. “There is potential for similar thunderstorm cells to pass over the fire area this afternoon and into the night.”
Wednesday will bring more heat and dry weather, with high in the low 90s and gusts up to 16 miles per hour. Lightning is possible — with no precipitation — and strong gusts could contribute to more unpredictable fire behavior, officials said.
The wildfire, sparked by lightning July 31 and burning north of Grand Junction, remains 7% contained, Pine Gulch fire officials said on its incident page Wednesday.
Grizzly Creek fire
Updated as of 10:30 a.m.
The Grizzly Creek fire outside Glenwood Springs grew to 29,000 acres overnight — more than 45 square miles — as fire crews achieved 4% containment.
The fire held Tuesday in No Name Creek, remaining at the top of the drainage, Grizzly Creek fire officials said in a news release.
Ridges near Ike and Spruce Creeks in the Bair Ranch area remain of significant interest, and as the fire gets closer, additional fire operations will be deployed to protect those structures, officials said.
There was minimal fire progression near Lookout Mountain, which firefighters had previously targeted for protection efforts.
Crews on Wednesday plan to focus on the completion of fire lines near Windy Point and above the French Creek drainage.
Much of Wednesday’s efforts, however, will come on the south side of Bair Ranch “where fire spotting potential remains high,” officials said.
Xcel Energy will be repairing power poles and infrastructure in Glenwood Canyon to the east of No Name.
Interstate 70 remains closed through Glenwood Canyon and there is no estimated time for reopening.
The Grizzly Creek fire started Aug. 10 and officials have not determined its cause.
Cameron Peak fire
Updated as of 10:30 a.m.
The Cameron Peak fire grew to 15,738 acres — nearly 25 square miles — and remains 0% contained Wednesday.
The southern edge of the fire gave crews issues Tuesday, with swirling winds preventing helicopters from being used, operations section chief Paul Hohn said Wednesday morning in a Facebook briefing.
“The way that a conifer fire spreads makes it very difficult, even with a highway and river and other features,” Hohn said. “When it spots, because of how high it can loft the embers, we can get fire in places where we don’t want it.”
Fire crews on Wednesday will continue to work on structure protection on the northern edge of the fire, including in the Red Feather Lakes and Crystal Lake communities, Hohn said.
The fire started Aug. 13 and its cause remains under investigation.
Williams Fork fire
Updated as of 0:00 a.m.
The Williams Fork increased by a few hundred acres overnight, and now sits at 6,726 acres — or 10.5 square miles — as of Wednesday morning.
Crews have reached 3% containment, officials said on the fire’s incident webpage, as the wildfire continues to burn within its perimeter. Favorable weather conditions Tuesday allowed firefighters to make progress in controlling the flames, with the containment coming in the northwest area of the fire along County Road 30, officials said.
Wednesday’s efforts will focus on protecting nearby infrastructure and preventing the flames from reaching private lands, as red flag conditions once again bring gusty winds, high temperatures and dry conditions.
There are no evacuation orders for residential areas, fire officials said. For Grand County emergency notifications, people are urged to visit gcemergency.com.
A large section of roads, campgrounds and trails on U.S. Forest Service land have been closed west of Winter Park and Fraser.
The fire started Aug. 14 and has been determined to be human-caused.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.
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