Pine Gulch Fire Now 4th Largest In Colorado History

Courtesy Inciweb
A stand of trees catches fire on Aug. 7, 2020, as part of the Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction, Colo.

Updated Aug. 17, 11:24 a.m.

There are now four fires burning in Colorado. If you are looking for the latest updates, you'll find them here for Monday, Aug. 17. With hot and dry weather on the horizon, little to no relief is in sight.

Our original story continues below.

There are only three fires in Colorado history that have consumed more acreage than the Pine Gulch Fire. Two weeks after it was first ignited by lightning north of Grand Junction, 73,381 acres have now been burned. It is only 7 percent contained.

For comparison, 2012's High Park Fire consumed 87,284 acres in the mountains west of Fort Collins.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the Pine Gulch Fire became the fourth largest fire in state history early Friday morning.

Nearly 800 fire personnel are working in mostly rough, unpopulated terrain, however, some nearby Garfield County ranches and homes have been ordered to evacuate. Officials said unless the dry, hot weather ends, it will be difficult to contain the fire.

“It's really up to mother nature,” fire official Traci LeClair told CPR News earlier this week. “It's that dry hot windy weather that caused the big gains that we saw over the past two or three days.”

Despite its massive size, the Pine Gulch Fire is the state’s second-highest fire priority. About an hour east is the much smaller Grizzly Creek Fire, which is burning close to businesses and homes and has also shut down part of Interstate 70.

Smoke from the Pine Gulch and Grizzly Creek fires has covered several parts of the state, affecting air quality and visibility. State health officials issued an air quality advisory for over a dozen counties, warning vulnerable populations to stay indoors away from smoke. 

Read More: Colorado Has 3 Major Wildfires Burning