Colorado wildfires: Latest on fires burning statewide as Pine Gulch grows to largest in state history

Updates as of Sunday
Posted at 12:49 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 13:51:05-04

UPDATE (Monday, Aug. 31, 11:50 a.m.): We have an updated story with the latest on the four major wildfires as of Monday morning. Click here for more.

DENVER – Four major wildfires, and several smaller fires, continue to burn across Colorado Saturday.

The Pine Gulch Fire on Thursday grew to the largest wildfire in state history, at more than 139,000 acres. Firefighters are increasing containment on it and the Grizzly Creek Fire burning near Glenwood Springs, but the Cameron Peak Fire in Larimer County is still 0% contained as of Sunday morning, and the Williams Fork Fire in Grand County is 5% contained. Air quality has improved across the state since earlier this week.

Below, you can find the latest updates on all four major fires burning in the state for Saturday, Aug. 29. Click here for all of Denver7's wildfire coverage.

Pine Gulch Fire

The Pine Gulch Fire is now the largest in state history, at 139,006 acres as of Friday morning. It is 77% contained after what fire officials said have been a few days of “highly successful” work.

The Southern Area type 1 Red Team will take over command of the fire on Sunday morning. All pre-evacuation notices for areas west of Highway 139 to the Utah border have been rescinded, as have some of the BLM closures in the area.

There was little new fire activity near containment lines on Thursday, and officials expect similar behavior today, with little expectation the fire will breach and perimeters. The interior of the fire is expected to continue to burn fuels on the interior of the fire that have not burned yet.

Crews bolstered containment lines on all sides of the fire Thursday. They will start moving any equipment no longer needed out on Friday and continue mop-up work near East Salt Lake.

There were still 915 personnel at the fire as of Friday morning, but officials said “many resources” would be demobilized Friday and sent to other fires and that they were discontinuing nighttime operations on the fire.

The crews will now move into structure suppression repair to rehab areas that have burned, starting on the southeast corner of the fire.

There is the potential for gusting winds and some rain in the area Friday, with increasing chances for rain and flooding in the coming days.

The fire started about 18 miles north of Grand Junction on July 31 and was caused by lightning

Grizzly Creek Fire

Firefighters continue to increase containment on the Grizzly Creek Fire just east of Glenwood Springs, which was 71% contained as of Saturday afternoon at 32,448 acres – up just over 40 acres from Friday morning.

Crews improved their lines on the fire’s perimeter on Thursday, and helicopters and ground crews continued their work on the uncontained areas of the fire – mostly on the northwestern and southern edges near No Name and Grizzly Creek drainages and Green Lake.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity levels have helped firefighters, officials said, and those conditions are expected to continue into the weekend. But there is some concern that rain could cause flooding and debris flows.

As is the case with the Pine Gulch Fire, crews are now moving into repairing landscape and infrastructure damaged in the fire and reopening access to areas that had been closed.

“We’re focusing on the economic and social impacts the fire has had and trying to help this community get back to normal life,” said Incident Commander Norm McDonald.

Coffee Pot Road, Transfer Trail Road and roads to access the Flat Tops are still closed, as are many areas of the White River National Forest and BLM land.

CDOT said people driving through Glenwood Canyon should expect traffic and closures in that area this weekend, with the potential for rain both Saturday and Sunday creating conditions prone for rock and mudslides, flooding and rock fall.

There were still 663 personnel working the fire as of Friday morning.

Cameron Peak Fire

The Cameron Peak Fire burning in Larimer County remains 0% contained at 23,013 acres as of Sunday morning, but has seen minimal growth the past couple of days – increasing by five acres Saturday. It was discovered that the USFS Greenridge/Lost Lake trailhead outhouse was burned during the early phases of the fire. It is the only structure confirmed as lost on the fire as of Saturday.

Crews patrolled and monitored structure preparation that was completed Friday along the Laramie River Road. The indirect lines across the north side of the fire area were largely completed, connecting Laramie River Road to Highway 14 north and east of the fire. Structure protection is in place on the CSU-Mountain Campus and the Pingree Park Road has been prepped.

Highway 14 remains closed from Kelly Flats to Gould and there is still a large mandatory and voluntary evacuation area.

The fire started Aug. 13 15 miles southwest of Red Feather Lakes. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Williams Fork Fire

Fire officials said Friday they anticipate firefighters will have the southwestern side of the Williams Fork Fire in Grand County contained “within the next several days.” Overall, the fire was 5% contained at 12,079 acres as of Saturday – up only about 30 acres from Friday morning.

Some members of the Colorado congressional delegation met with fire crews Thursday. Growth has moderate on the latter half of the week.

Crews continue to build fire lines west of Fraser and south of Tabernash, and more heavy equipment is being brought in to create breaks along St. Louis Creek Road.

There is a chance of rain in the area Friday, but drier conditions are expected next week.

There remain closures on the Forest Service land in the area. A Facebook Live community meeting is set for 5 p.m. Friday on the fire’s Facebook page.

The fire started on the afternoon of Aug. 14. Officials have deemed it to be human-caused.

East Fork Fire

Firefighters are working to further contain the East Fork Fire, which has burned about 450 acres in Las Animas County in southern Colorado.

The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) said the East Fork Fire, which is burning 11 miles southeast of Trinidad, grew to 450 acres with 10% containment as of Thursday evening.

Three homes along the southeast edge of the fire are threatened by the blaze. In addition, DFPC said the Raton watershed in New Mexico is also threatened by this fire.