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At 135,000 acres, the Pine Gulch Fire is almost the largest wildfire in Colorado history

Pine Gulch Fire_Wyoming Hotshots
Posted at 10:45 AM, Aug 25, 2020

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — As the Pine Gulch Fire continues to grow along the Western Slope, it's also climbing toward becoming the largest wildfire in Colorado's history.

As of Tuesday morning, the fire was estimated at 134,999 acres and is 47% contained, according to the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team.

The state's 10 largest fires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
2. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 134,999 acres
3. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
4. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
5. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
6. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
7. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
8. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
9. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
10. 117 Fire (2018): 42,795 acres
Note: The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.

Currently, the Hayman Fire is the largest wildfire on record in the state. That fire, which broke out in 2002, burned 137,760 acres north of Lake George, and included Park, Jefferson, Douglas and Teller Counties. According to the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, it was one of the most severe wildfires in respect to burn intensity. It grew rapidly and destroyed 600 structures in its path, including 133 residences, one commercial building and 466 outbuildings. The fire was caused by humans and was contained and and controlled by the end of July 2002.

The Pine Gulch Fire started on July 31 about 18 miles north of Grand Junction. It was sparked by lightning.

Fire activity along the Pine Gulch Fire's northwest side increased Monday just east of 267 Road. It moved up Corral Canyon and onto the ridge near Long Point, but not the Roan Creek drainage, according to the incident management team.

Residents around the wildfire should expect to see more aircraft Tuesday that will help to slow the fire's progression and allow crews to reinforce, connect and construct control lines. Meanwhile, firefighters will also remove heavy fuels in that northwest area, the incident management team reported.

Fire managers are regularly evaluating how to attack this part of the fire more aggressively.

On Monday evening, crews successfully carried out a burning operation near Highway 139 to the northwest between mile markers 19 and 20. Firefighters will mop up this edge today.

Fire activity has been minimal along the south edge, according to the incident management team.

Thunderstorms are expected Tuesday afternoon through midnight. While there is only a 10% chance of rainfall, the storms could bring lightning and wind gusts up to 25 mph winds.

The following roads are under evacuation orders:

  • 4A Ridge Road/County Road 256
  • Salt Wash (205), King Road/County Road 258
  • Clear Creek Road/County Road 211
  • Carr Creek Road/County Road 207
  • Kimball Creek Road/County Road 202

A pre-evacuation order is in effect for:

  • All residents of Garfield County west of CO-139 to the Utah border
  • Any formerly evacuated residents

Click here for details on evacuations in Garfield County. There are no pre-evacuation or evacuation orders in Mesa County.

In addition to evacuations, there are road closures around the fire as well, including:

  • Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 at North Dry Fork/County Road 20
  • The V 2/10 Road at the 44 Road
  • Coal Canyon Road just past the Cameo Shooting Range
  • 21 Road north of the Bureau of Land Management boundary
  • 16 Road at V 8/10 Road
  • Q 5/10 Road is closed at 18 Road
  • CO-139 Douglas Pass north of Loma from mile marker 6 to mile marker 39
  • Bureau of Land Management lands north of Loma, Fruita, Grand Junction, and Palisade