A Colorado wildfire, propelled by high winds, grew more than 22,000 acres on Wednesday, making it the largest in the state’s history.
The Cameron Peak Fire, which burned in the mountains west of Fort Collins, had grown to 158,300 acres by Wednesday evening, making it the largest devastating fire in the state’s history. This comes from The Denver Post newspaper, which compiled information on devastating fires.
No injuries or fatalities were associated with the record fire, which is 56 percent contained.
The fire was fueled by high winds that started Tuesday evening and through Wednesday, with sustained winds of about 30 mph and gusts of about 60 mph, said meteorologist Aviva Braun. While it will be windy for the rest of the week, no high gusts are expected.
“Conditions will continue to be challenging, just not nearly as severe as they are today,”
Some mandatory evacuations have been ordered and the mandatory evacuation zones extended to the foothills west of Fort Collins for the first time, but the city has not been classified as endangered, The Associated Press reported.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said he understands the difficulty of forcing people to leave their homes.
“We hate doing this to you, but there’s nothing worse than worrying about losing your life,” said Smith. “And the way these winds have changed today – the ability of this thing to go in any direction – that was tough.”
Smith said some buildings were destroyed by fire Wednesday, but officials would not know what it was for some time as the area remains dangerous with rundown power lines and trees. Officials will work to assess and count the number of structures lost as soon as they are able to do so.
With the new size of the fire, it is ahead of the second largest wildfire in state history that also broke out this year, the Pine Gulch Fire. That fire burned 139,007 acres and was 100 percent contained by September.
The Pine Gulch Fire, which was triggered by a lightning strike about 18 miles north of Grand Junction in July, became the largest fire in state history at the time when it surpassed the 2002 Hayman Fire in August.
The Cameron Peak Fire began in the national forests of Arapaho and Roosevelt on August 13, according to firefighters. A cause is being investigated.
It was an explosive forest fire season in the western United States
More than 4.1 million acres were burned in California – 13 major forest fires across the state were still burning Wednesday – and more than 9,000 homes and other buildings were destroyed, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Safety said.
Thirty-one people in California have died.
Oregon also experienced a devastating crisis that forced thousands to flee their homes.
Nine people have been killed in the fires in that state, more than 4,000 homes have been destroyed and around 1.2 million acres had burned down by Wednesday, according to the state emergency management office. Seven active fires were still burning in Oregon.