Pine Gulch Fire, now at 133,783 acres, is 44% contained

Pine Gulch Fire_Wyoming Hotshots/Pine Gulch Fire 2
Posted at 10:15 AM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 12:32:42-04

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — The Pine Gulch Fire in western Colorado grew another 4,000 acres overnight but remained 44% contained as of mid-morning Monday, officials said.

Crews on Monday were expecting thunderstorms to develop in the afternoon, bringing a risk of outflow winds and lightning but not much rainfall.

Mesa County Commissioners on Monday declared a formal local disaster emergency in response to the fire, a move that will allow the county to access additional funding and resources.

Overall, moderate fire behavior was expected Monday, though the storms later in the day could cause growth on the north, west and south sides of the fire.

Rain chances will increase to about 20% by the end of the week.

The Pine Gulch Fire, which is north of Grand Junction and was at 133,783 acres as of Monday morning, is the second-largest wildfire in state history.

Pine Gulch map

The state's 10 largest fires in history, ranked by acreage, are:

1. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
2. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 129,715 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.)

A virtual public meeting is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. on the Pine Gulch Fire Facebook page.

Gov. Jared Polis issued an executive order memorializing a disaster emergency declaration for the Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa and Garfield counties on Saturday.

The declaration allows state agencies to coordinate operations and make more resources available for firefighting and recovery.

The order authorizes the transfer of $700,000 from the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund into the Disaster Emergency Fund for fire suppression and recovery efforts since Aug. 3. It also activates the State Emergency Operations Plan and allows the Division of Fire Prevention and Control to coordinate the applications for and dispersal of money for different agencies.

Evacuation orders are in effect for areas on the northwest side of Pine Gulch Fire, as follows:

  • From the Mesa County line north to the east/west Colorado Highway 256 (Four A Ridge Road), including north/south Colorado Highway 256
  • Highway 256/205 moved from pre-evacuation to full evacuation
  • From Highway 139/Douglas Pass road east to the preexisting evacuation order for Carr Creek Road/County Road 207), including Colorado Highway 205 Salt Wash and Kimball Creek Road/County Road 202 on Kimball Mountain.

Colorado Highway 258/King Road is evacuated.

Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 above Brush Creek Road/County Road 209 is still under evacuation orders. Everything west of Douglas Pass/Colorado Highway 139 to the Utah state line is also in pre-evacuation status.

To learn more about evacuations, click here.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office also said they've created an online Fire Information Resource page to keep residents informed. Residents in the affected counties can sign up to receive alerts and new information on the fire here for Garfield County and here for Mesa County.

Click here to learn more about the smoke outlook in Colorado. A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Pine Gulch Fire. No drones can fly in the area.

The Pine Gulch Fire is one of four major fires currently burning in Colorado. Click here for more Denver7 coverage of the wildfires.