Four large wildfires keep firefighters in Colorado busy

August 15, 2020 | 10 a.m.

Pine Gulch Fire
The Wyoming Hotshots on the Pine Gulch Fire August 7, 2020. InciWeb.

A week ago when I was talking with a colleague about the national wildfire situation we agreed there was a “lull” in the action. With new fires in California and Colorado since then, that has changed.

In southern California on August 12 the Lake Fire west of Lancaster grew large enough 29 minutes after it was reported to create pyrocumulus clouds above the smoke column. Three hours later it was 10,000 acres and Friday had blackened at least 17,000 acres.

But much of the focus has turned Colorado where four large fires are out of control.

Map four large wildfires Colorado
Map showing four large wildfires in Colorado, August 15, 2020.

The Pine Gulch Fire 15 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado at 73,381 acres Saturday became the fourth largest fire in the recorded history of the state. The Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team with Dan Dallas as Incident Commander assumed command of the Friday morning after transitioning with the type 2 team.

Pine Gulch Fire fourth largest Colorado

The Grizzly Creek Fire just east of Glenwood Springs has been adding thousands of acres every day since it started August 10. Interstate 70 has been closed since then due to the fire.

More information about the Grizzly Creek Fire on Wildfire Today.

Grizzly Creek Fire
View of the Grizzly Creek Fire from a helicopter August 14, 2020. InciWeb.

The newest of the four large fires in Colorado is the Williams Fork Fire 10 air miles southeast of Williams Fork Reservoir and 19 miles southeast of Kremmling reported just before noon Friday August 14. Firefighters estimated Friday night it was 1,300 acres and said it is exhibiting extreme fire behavior as it moves east and northeast toward Church Park. The fire is currently holding east of CR 30 and south of Keyser Creek in an area with intensive beetle kill from the early 2000s. Henderson Mill and its infrastructure along with multiple other utilities are in the immediate area.

map Williams Fork Fire
Map showing heat on the Williams Fork Fire detected by a satellite at 3:54 a.m. MDT August 15.

The Cameron Peak Fire has been burning since August 13 in the Rawah Wilderness on the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests near Highway 14 and Chambers Lake. It is 36 air miles west of Fort Collins, Colorado and as of Friday night had burned about 5,424 acres. Mike Haydon’s Type 2 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Blue will assume command today, August 15. The Cameron Peak Fire started west of Chambers Lake and has crossed Highway 14 to the east, burning nearly 800 acres on the south side of the highway.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cameron Peak Fire including the most recent, click here.

Cameron Peak Fire map
The red line was the perimeter of the Cameron Peak Fire at 10:30 p.m. MDT August 14, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

8 thoughts on “Four large wildfires keep firefighters in Colorado busy”

  1. The family and I went to Golden Gate Canyon state Park on Friday the 21st. There is noticeable smoke all along the front range but you can smell it as close as Golden. It’s a haze all over Denver.
    The surprising part is there is smoke as far north as Cheyenne. It’s so bad you can’t see more than 5 miles in town. Generally you can easily see the mountains between Cheyenne and Laramie. Not right now.

  2. Lord God, please send rain to help put these fires out. I love this area and can’t wait to see it again. Amen

  3. Rifle Falls is the area where we grew up. So many wonderful memories going up in flames. God bless the firefighters who are working to get all the fires contained.

  4. I hope the weather will cooperate, I have family in Loveland & Fort Collins. Please pray for rain.

    1. I have family in Fort Collins and close to Denver! Let’s agree in prayer for all of them.

  5. We are planning a trip to Steamboat Springs this thursday 8/21/20 is it recommended that we cancel the trip do to the wild fires ? Thank You, Mike Rogers

    1. I-70 has been closed since the 10th of August form Glenwood Springs East. A new fire started yesterday at the Rifle fish hatchery so that area is closed and of course the Pine Gulch Fire that is 15 mi. N. of Grand Junction but has spread basically from Lima Area to Debeque area and basically these fires are no where close to being contained as 7 % is about the highest ca containment so depending where you are coming from Steamboat Springs is safe but getting there may take at least an extra day.

    2. Micheal — Of the four active fires, none are that close to SS — though SS area shares the dry conditions and also had a lot of beetle damage in the past two decades too — there is no direct fire danger there.

      My sister and her husband have been in Steamboat for the past two weeks – leaving tomorrow and happy to be getting out of the dust and smoke. Due to allergies and sinus issues, they have found their activities limited by the smokey air…which was already very dust-filled before the smoke was added. It’s exceptionally dry. If you have anyone in your travel group who is sensitive (e.g. sinuses, asthma) they might be similarly limited.

      Good news: My brother says that Steamboat is doing an exceptional job on their mask-wearing and physical-distancing protocols, so all is well from the Covid-19 perspective. Also, as of now, flying in and out of Hayden is not affected…and due to it’s valley location you have that assurance that air travel is not an issue. ++cj


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