Crews are still working to contain several small wildfires that were burning on Thursday, a day marked by a rare “extremely critical” wildfire weather warning issued by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. Nearly the entire western half of the state was also on alert for “extreme” fire danger.
So far, the fires have been relatively small, with no reported injuries or major damage to homes or buildings. And while climate change and other factors mean Colorado’s fire season is now a year-long affair, the fires this week suggest peak wildfire days have just started.
Here are a few of the fires we’re watching:
Platte River Fire
About 70 firefighters were dispatched to the 31-acre Platte River Fire near the Buffalo Creek Community. Air tankers and helicopters were called in Thursday to help fight the wildfire, which forced the evacuation of at least 25 homes in the area near Conifer.
Straight Creek Wildfire
Eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 have reopened, but firefighters are still working the Straight Creek Wildfire in Summit County. The 10 to 15-acre fire is burning near Dillon and Silverthorne in forests, including ones with beetle-killed lodgepole pines, but authorities say no homes or buildings are being threatened.
A lightning strike likely triggered the 322-acre Dragon Fire near Rangely. The fire is about 60 percent contained and led to several road closures in the area, according to the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office.
South Fork Fire
The 14-acre South Fork Fire near Nucla started earlier this week and is about 50 percent contained, according to local Bureau of Land Management officials. The fire is smoldering, less active at the moment, and has not endangered any homes or buildings but is located in a remote, hard-to-access area, officials said.