List of Colorado wildfires

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This is a list of Colorado wildfires which have occurred periodically throughout its recorded history.[1]

One of the most significant fires in United States history was The Big Blowup of 1910.[2] In that fire, 3 million acres burned and 78 firefighters were killed in the northern Rocky Mountains (in the states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana) which led to a standing policy in Colorado of all fires out by 10am.[3] The policy evolved over the 20th century.

The Colorado State Forest Service was established by the Colorado General Assembly in 1955 and oversees response to wildfires in Colorado.[not verified in body]

Part of the 2002 Colorado wildfires that burned nearly 360,000 acres, the Hayman Fire was the largest wildfire in Colorado state history for nearly 20 years[4][5] until the Pine Gulch Fire surpassed it in August 2020.[6] The 2012 Colorado forest fires broke the record for most destructive fire twice and led to declaration of a federal disaster area in June 2012.[7] The 2013 Colorado forest fires, fueled by high heat and winds[8] again broke the record for the most destructive and, as of July 5, 2013, includes the second largest (by area) in Colorado History.

List of fires[edit]

This list only covers the largest, most destructive fires in Colorado History. Colorado State University has information on named fires from 1976 to 2006[9] and total wildfires from 1960 to 2009.[10] According to CSU, wildfires in Colorado burned less than 100,000 acres per decade over the 1960s and the 1970s. For the 1980s and 1990s, the total was over 200,000 acres per decade. For the 2000s, the total was approximately 1,000,000 acres. Notable fires from before 1980 are also included, sourced mainly from old newspapers and records. In this list, all fires greater than 40,000 acres (16,000 ha) and all but one over 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) occurred in the 21st century.

Year Size Name Area Notes
1924 2,000 acres (810 ha) Jim Creek fire Winter Park, Colorado, Moffat Tunnel west portal.
1926 120 acres (49 ha) Payne Gulch fire South of Bailey, Colorado, Pike National Forest.
1932 600 acres (240 ha) Tolland fire Tolland, Colorado.
1934 300 acres (120 ha) East Portal fire West of Tolland, Colorado, Moffat Tunnel east portal.
1934 300 acres (120 ha) Hourglass fire Topaz Mountain, Pike National Forest.
1938 700 acres (280 ha) Black Canyon fire East of Tolland, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.
1939 1,060 acres (430 ha) Panhandle fire Northwest of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.
1939 1,600 acres (650 ha) Granite Mountain fire Granite, Colorado, San Isabel National Forest.
1939 600 acres (240 ha) Mammoth Mountain fire Platoro, Colorado, Rio Grande National Forest.
1942 500 acres (200 ha) Green Ridge fire East of Yampa, Colorado, Routt National Forest.
1944 900 acres (360 ha) Glendevey fire Glendevey, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.
1944 700 acres (280 ha) Hell's Hole fire West of Wolcott, Colorado.
1948 14,000 acres (5,700 ha) Weld County grass fire Kersey, Colorado.
1950 28,800 acres (11,700 ha) Cheyenne Mountain fire Fort Carson, Colorado Destroyed 89 buildings in and around Camp Carson and killed 8 people. Although reports claim the fire was over 45 square miles in size, this number was likely exaggerated.
1950 2,000 acres (810 ha) Grand Mesa fire Grand Mesa, west of Cedaredge, Colorado.
1951 350 acres (140 ha) Fremont Peak fire Royal Gorge Threatened the Royal Gorge bridge.
1951 6,000 acres (2,400 ha) Trailer Draw fire Douglas Mountain, Moffat County, Colorado
1952 2,000 acres (810 ha) Roosevelt fire Roosevelt National Forest, north of Red Feather Lakes.
1952 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) Tallahassee Creek fire West of Cañon City, Colorado.
1952 200 acres (81 ha) Owl's Head fire Near Mount Evans
1952 1,600 acres (650 ha) Goose Creek fire South of Creede, Colorado. Burned in an area so rugged in the Rio Grande National Forest that firefighters had to hike in five miles from the nearest road. Caused by hunters.
1956 600 acres (240 ha) Devil's Canyon fire Southwest of Idaho Springs, Colorado, in the Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County.
1956 300 acres (120 ha) North Fork fire Rocky Mountain National Park, northwest of Glen Haven, Colorado
1958 300 acres (120 ha) Deadman fire West of Red Feather Lakes
1959 2,107 acres (853 ha) Morefield fire Mesa Verde National Park
1962 1,064 acres (431 ha) Resthouse fire Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County, Colorado.
1962 2,200 acres (890 ha) Bear Creek fire Somerset, Colorado
1963 2,100 acres (850 ha) Wildcat Canyon fire Pike National Forest, southwest of Cheeseman Lake Escaped prescribed fire that jumped the South Platte River.
1966 470 acres (190 ha) Comanche fire Comanche Reservoir, Roosevelt National Forest
1968 740 acres (300 ha) Lincoln Lake fire Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County, Colorado.
1971 3,100 acres (1,300 ha) Bull Mountain fire Northwestern Larimer County, Colorado
1972 2,317 acres (938 ha) Moccasin Mesa fire Mesa Verde National Park
1972 1,550 acres (630 ha) Irish Canyon fire Northwestern Moffat County Helicopter crashed while working on this fire. No fatalities.
1972 1,565 acres (633 ha) Plug Hat fires North of Dinosaur, Colorado Two fires, about 900 and 700 acres.
1974 115 acres (47 ha) Gold Hill fire Gold Hill, Colorado Immediately south of Gold Hill, Colorado. 1 structure destroyed. Human caused.
1974 375 acres (152 ha) Jefferson Lake fire West of Kenosha Pass, Colorado
1975 4,200 acres (1,700 ha) Red Dirt fire Eagle County, Colorado Largest Colorado wildfire at the time until surpassed by the Emerald Lake fire in 1980.
1976 880 acres (360 ha) Battlement Creek fire Parachute, Colorado Killed 3 firefighters in a burn over and 1 pilot in an airtanker crash.
1976 230 acres (93 ha) Comforter Mountain fire Boulder Canyon, Colorado
1977 500 acres (200 ha) Ox Yoke fire Deckers, Colorado
1977 1,400 acres (570 ha) Meadow Lake fire Northwest of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, White River National Forest
1977 4,170 acres (1,690 ha) Deep Creek fire Northwest of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, White River National Forest
1978 1,122 acres (454 ha) Kilpecker fire West of Red Feather Lakes
1978 6,300 acres (2,500 ha) Overholt fire Maybell, Colorado
1978 2,300 acres (930 ha) Maes Creek fire Greenhorn Mountain, San Isabel National Forest
1978 400 acres (160 ha) Reservoir fire Idaho Springs Reservoir, Arapaho National Forest
1978 1,000 acres (400 ha) Ouzel fire Rocky Mountain National Park Caused by lightning in Rocky Mountain National Park and was allowed to burn naturally, but was pushed by strong winds and ran towards Allenspark, Colorado. Luckily, the fire was subdued before it reached the park boundary.
1980 10,063 acres (4,072 ha) Emerald Lake fire White River National Forest Largest wildfire in Colorado history at the time.
1988 15,438 acres (6,248 ha) I Do fire South of Sunbeam, Colorado, Moffat County. Surpassed the Emerald Lake fire as largest in the state's history. Named for a Bureau of Land Management firefighter who was married the day the fire broke out.
1989 2,100 acres (850 ha) Black Tiger Fire West of Boulder, Colorado 44 homes and structures burned in under six hours. At the time, it was Colorado's most destructive wildfire in terms of property loss and damage.[11]
1993 9,917 acres (4,013 ha) Wapiti fire Sunbeam, Colorado
1993 12,410 acres (5,020 ha) Sunbeam fire Sunbeam, Colorado
1994 13,234 acres (5,356 ha) Black Ridge fire South of Durango, Colorado
1994 2,115 acres (856 ha) South Canyon fire Glenwood Springs, Colorado Often referred to as the "Storm King" fire. Killed 14 firefighters.
1996 11,875 acres (4,806 ha) Buffalo Creek fire Pike National Forest south of Pine, Colorado Destroyed 12 homes.
1996 15,872 acres (6,423 ha) O'Pinion fire Moffat County, Colorado, south of U.S. 40
2000 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) Kiowa County fire Kiowa County, Colorado.
2000 11,021 acres (4,460 ha) Hi Meadow fire Pine, Colorado Burned 58 structures and caused more than $15 million in damages. Ignited by a cigarette.[12]
2000 10,600 acres (4,300 ha) Bobcat fire West of Loveland, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest 22 structures lost.
2000 23,607 acres (9,553 ha) Bircher fire Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado Largest fire in Mesa Verde National Park history.
2000 11,033 acres (4,465 ha) Buster Flats fire Northwestern Moffat County, Colorado.
2002 10,000 acres (4,000 ha) Lincoln County Complex fire Lincoln County, Colorado
2002 137,760 acres (55,750 ha) Hayman Fire Pike National Forest, Colorado Second largest fire in Colorado history[6] by area. 5 firefighter deaths, 133 homes lost, 600 total structures destroyed, more than $42 million in damages. Caused by arson.[13]
2002 71,739 acres (29,032 ha) Missionary Ridge Fire Durango, Colorado Started June 9, 2002. Firefighting cost $40 million; one firefighter death after tree fall. Burned for 39 days and destroyed 46 houses and cabins.
2002 12,209 acres (4,941 ha) Coal Seam fire Glenwood Springs, Colorado Caused by a coal seam fire that initially ignited in 1910 and burned underground for decades. 43 structures were destroyed.
2002 27,084 acres (10,961 ha) Trinidad Complex fire Las Animas County, Colorado Spring and Fisher fires. The Spring fire began in New Mexico and crossed into Colorado.
2002 4,413 acres (1,786 ha) Big Elk fire Estes Park, Colorado 3 firefighters killed in plane crash.
2002 4,439 acres (1,796 ha) Iron Mountain fire Southwest of Cañon City, Colorado. Destroyed 201 structures, including over 100 homes.
2002 30,573 acres (12,372 ha) Burn Canyon fire Norwood, Colorado
2002 13,490 acres (5,460 ha) Spring Creek Complex fire North of Glenwood Springs, Colorado Spring Creek and East Meadow Creek fires
2002 17,273 acres (6,990 ha) Big Fish fire Trappers Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness
2002 31,016 acres (12,552 ha) Mt. Zirkel Complex fire Mount Zirkel Wilderness Consisted of the Burn Ridge and Hinman fires.
2003 3,705 acres (1,499 ha) Overland fire Jamestown, Colorado Caused by downed power lines. Destroyed 62 structures.
2004 9,014 acres (3,648 ha) Picnic Rock fire Northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado
2004 4,188 acres (1,695 ha) Campbell Fire 11 miles north of Nucla, Colorado BLM and Uncompahgre National Forest.
2005 11,357 acres (4,596 ha) Mason fire Beulah, Colorado
2006 15,400 acres (6,200 ha) Yuma County fire Yuma County, Colorado
2006 13,820 acres (5,590 ha) Mato Vega fire La Veta Pass, Colorado
2008 8,900 acres (3,600 ha) Ordway fire Ordway, Colorado Killed 2 firefighters and burned 44 structures.
2008 9,000 acres (3,600 ha) TA-25 fire Fort Carson, Colorado Pilot killed when his plane crashed.
2008 46,612 acres (18,863 ha) Bridger fire Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado
2008 25,385 acres (10,273 ha) Mayberry fire Maybell, Colorado
2010 6,181 acres (2,501 ha) Fourmile Canyon fire West of Boulder, Colorado Caused by an extinguished fire pit that reignited.[14] Destroyed 172 structures and was the most destructive Colorado wildfire at the time.
2011 12,310 acres (4,980 ha) Fort Lyons fire John Martin Reservoir, Bent County, Colorado
2011 46,257 acres (18,720 ha) Bear Springs Complex fire Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado Consisted of the Bear Springs and Callie Marie fires.
2011 14,651 acres (5,929 ha) Shell Complex fire Las Animas County, Colorado Consisted of the Shell and Brice fires.
2012 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) Heartstrong fire Yuma, Colorado
2012 3,217 acres (1,302 ha) Lower North Fork fire Foxton, Colorado Caused by an escaped prescribed fire. Burned 23 homes and killed 3 people. Deadliest Colorado wildfire in terms of civilian lives lost.
2012 24,931 acres (10,089 ha) Little Sand fire San Juan National Forest, north of Pagosa Springs, Colorado [citation needed]
2012 87,284 acres (35,323 ha) High Park Fire Roosevelt National Forest, West of Fort Collins Started by lightning. Sixth largest wildfire in Colorado state history by area. Killed one person and destroyed at least 248 homes, making it the most destructive fire in state history until Waldo Canyon Fire a few days later.[citation needed]
2012 18,247 acres (7,384 ha) Waldo Canyon Fire Colorado Springs area Located near Pikes Peak, northwest of Colorado Springs in the Waldo Canyon - origin currently unknown - first reported the afternoon of Saturday, June 23. Destroyed 346 homes; the most destructive fire until the Black Forest Fire of 2013. Two fatalities.[citation needed]
2012 22,800 acres (9,200 ha) Last Chance fire Last Chance, Colorado Began south of Last Chance, Colorado, by sparks from a tire blowout. Burned 11 structures.[citation needed]
2012 10,147 acres (4,106 ha) Weber fire Mancos, Colorado [citation needed]
2012 13,863 acres (5,610 ha) Pine Ridge fire West of De Beque, Colorado [citation needed]
2013 14,280 acres (5,780 ha)[15] Black Forest Fire Black Forest, near Colorado Springs The most destructive fire in Colorado state history. Destroyed 511 homes, left 28 homes partially damaged, and claimed the lives of two people.[16] Cause: natural causes eliminated.
2013 3,800 acres (1,500 ha)[17] Royal Gorge Fire Royal Gorge Started June 11, 2013; jumped Royal Gorge and damaged the Royal Gorge Bridge.
2013 13,572 acres (5,492 ha)[18][19] East Peak Fire East Spanish Peak Started June 19, 2013; put the entire town of Walsenburg, Colorado, under pre-evacuation status. Cause: Lightning.
2013 110,405 acres (44,679 ha)[19][20][21][22] West Fork Fire Complex Wolf Creek Pass Started June 20, 2013; forced evacuation of entire town of South Fork, Colorado. The fire is composed of three subsidiary fires that merged: West Fork fire, Papoose fire and Windy Pass fire. Cause: Lightning.
2014 19,569 acres (7,919 ha) Alkali fire Moffat County near Maybell, Colorado
2015 11,699 acres (4,734 ha) Gutterson Ranch fire U.S. 34 north of Keenesburg, Colorado
2016 38,380 acres (15,530 ha) Beaver Creek fire Northwestern Jackson County, Colorado, Routt National Forest Burned from June until October on the Colorado-Wyoming state line.
2016 16,574 acres (6,707 ha) Hayden Pass fire San Isabel National Forest southwest of Coaldale, Colorado
2016 5,232 acres (2,117 ha) Beulah Hill fire Beulah, Colorado Destroyed 14 structures.[citation needed]
2016 18,761 acres (7,592 ha) Junkins fire San Isabel National Forest west of Beulah, Colorado Destroyed 26 structures.[citation needed]
2017 32,564 acres (13,178 ha) Logan fire Logan County, Colorado Fanned by strong winds, the fire killed hundreds of cattle and destroyed 15 structures.[citation needed]
2017 12,839 acres (5,196 ha) Peekaboo fire Northwest Moffat County, Colorado Cause: Lightning/natural.[citation needed]
2017 18,804 acres (7,610 ha) Dead Dog fire Rangely, Colorado [citation needed]
2017 84 acres (34 ha) Peak 2 fire Breckenridge, Colorado Although small, this fire was forced the evacuation of 463 homes near Breckenridge, Colorado.
2018 10,330 acres (4,180 ha) Stateline fire Las Animas County, Colorado and Union County, New Mexico Started in New Mexico and burned into Colorado. Blackened over 28,000 acres.
2018 42,795 acres (17,319 ha) MM 117 fire El Paso County, Colorado
2018 33,609 acres (13,601 ha) Badger Hole fire Walsh, Colorado Burned a total of 50,815 acres in Colorado and Kansas. Destroyed 24 structures.
2018 54,129 Acres 416 & Burro Fire Complex Durango, Colorado The fire started June 1st, 2018 about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado.[citation needed]
2018 108,045 Acres Spring Creek Fire Fort Garland, Colorado / La Veta, Colorado / Sangre de Cristo Mountains The fire started June 27th, 2018 about 9 miles NE of Ft. Garland, CO. The fire reached 108,045 acres of burned area. It was declared 100% contained on September 10, 2018.[23] More than 140 homes were lost to the fire. [24] At least 120 others have been damaged. The fire was human caused and the suspect faces 141 counts of first-degree arson — one count for each home destroyed by the fire. [25]
2018 13,023 Acres Weston Pass Fire Fairplay, Colorado
2018 19,955 acres (8,076 ha) Divide fire Moffat County, Colorado
2018 20,120 acres (8,140 ha) Silver Creek fire Northwest of Kremmling, Colorado
2018 12,588 acres (5,094 ha) Lake Christine Fire Basalt, Colorado[citation needed]
2018 19,634 acres (7,946 ha) Plateau fire McPhee Reservoir[citation needed]
2018 36,520 acres (14,780 ha) Bull Draw fire North of Nucla, Colorado[citation needed]
2019 8,959 acres (3,626 ha) Decker fire Rio Grande National Forest and San Isabel National Forest south of Salida, Colorado Caused by lightning in early September and was allowed to burn while being supervised in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Fire flared up jumping Methodist Mt. threatening homes south of Salida.[citation needed]
2020 2,905 acres (1,176 ha) East Canyon Fire 19 Miles East of Cortez, Colorado Caused by lightning, initial attack on Sunday, June 14 at 12:41pm.[26]The pre-positioned Durango Interagency Type 3 team responded to the initial attack and managed the fire until the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Blue Team assumed command of the fire on Tuesday June 16, 2020. The fire transitioned back to a local Type 3 organization on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:00 a.m.
2020 139,007 acres (56,254 ha) Pine Gulch fire 18 Miles North of Grand Junction Caused by lightning, initial attack on Friday, July 31, after 5 PM.[27] As of 27 Aug 2020, Pine Gulch wildfire became the largest fire in Colorado history, the same day the fire became just 77% contained.[6] (Size as of 31 August 2020)
2020 32,431 acres (13,124 ha) Grizzly Creek fire Glenwood Canyon Started along interstate I-70 in Glenwood Canyon.[28] (Size as of 25 September 2020)
2020 124,021 acres (50,190 ha) Cameron Peak fire Cameron Pass, Roosevelt National Forest Started August 13, cause under investigation. As of 27 September the third largest fire in Colorado history. [29] (Size as of 27 Sept 2020) As of 27 Sept 2020 the fire is 25% contained. Largest wildfire in Larimer county history.[30][31][32]
2020 12,850 acres (5,200 ha) Williams Fork fire Williams Fork Drainage in the Arapaho National Forest, southwest of Fraser.[33] Started August 14, human-caused. (Size as of 27 September 2020)
2020 165 acres (67 ha) Lewstone Fire Lewstone Creek between Highway 14 and Rist Canyon[34] Started on August 22 and was 100% contained on August 25.[35]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Wildfire Policy in Transition: Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors. Archived 2010-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. History of Significant Fires on State And Private Lands (acreage and/or home loss and/or fatalities). Archived 2013-11-08 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Presentation on Wildfire Policy in Transition Archived 2010-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Colorado Wildfires, State & Private Lands, 1978-2009. Archived 2010-06-13 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Colorado State Forest Service.Colorado Wildfires Broken Down By Decade (with charts). Archived 2013-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b c Pine Gulch fire becomes largest in Colorado history as firefighters near full containment, Colorado Sun, 27 August 2020, accessed 28 August 2020.
  7. ^ Associated Press (June 29, 2012). Obama declares disaster in Colorado as fires burn. Fox News
  8. ^ "Fire 30% contained, 473 homes burned". Denver Post. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  9. ^ "fire history.xls" (PDF). Colorado State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-11-08. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  10. ^ "COLORADO WILDFIRES STATE AND PRIVATE LANDS" (PDF). Colorado State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  11. ^ "Black Tiger Fire Case Study" (PDF). Fire investigations. NFPA fire investigations - Natural disasters. Quincy, Massachusetts: National Fire Protection Association. 1990.
  12. ^ "Investigators: Cigarette caused Hi Meadow fire". Denver Post. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  13. ^ "Case Study: Hayman Fire, Hayman Colorado". American Planning Association. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  14. ^ "Fourmile Fire". CBS Denver. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  15. ^ Eric Gorski. "Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs at 75 % containment". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  16. ^ "Black Forest Fire 100% Contained; Neighborhoods Open To Residents". Kktv.com. Retrieved 2013-07-01.
  17. ^ "Major fire erupts in Royal Gorge area: 3,800 acres burning".
  18. ^ "East Peak Fire". InciWeb.
  19. ^ a b "Colorado Wildfire Report: July 8". Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
  20. ^ "West Fork Fire West Update". Archuleta County Emergency Information. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  21. ^ "inciweb: West Fork Complex Update". inciweb. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  22. ^ Ryan Parker (July 5, 2013). "West Fork Fire Complex 25 percent contained, 110,028 acres burned". The Denver Post. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  23. ^ https://denver.cbslocal.com/2018/09/10/spring-fire-100-percent-contained/
  24. ^ "Spring Fire 91 percent contained, at least 145 homes burned". FOX31 Denver. 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  25. ^ "Spring Creek fire: Denmark man staying in U.S. on expired visa charged with 141 counts of arson in connection with wildfire". The Denver Post. 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  26. ^ "inciweb: East Canyon Fire Information". National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  27. ^ "inciweb: Pine Gulch Fire Information". National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  28. ^ "inciweb: Grizzly Creek Fire Information". National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  29. ^ "inciweb: Cameron Peak Fire Information". National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  30. ^ https://denver.cbslocal.com/2020/09/06/larimer-county-ash-debris-cameron-peak-fire/, accessed 6 September 2020.
  31. ^ “A lot of structures under threat”: Cameron Peak fire continues its rapid expansion, Colorado Sun, 7 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Inciweb, Incident Information" Size: 102,596 Acres, retrieved 9/8/2020.
  33. ^ "inciweb: Williams Fork Fire Information". National Interagency Fire Center. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  34. ^ "Lewstone Fire burning in Larimer Country, NW of Fort Collins". KDVR FOX31. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  35. ^ "CBS Denver News: Lewstone Fire Now Fully Contained In Larimer County". Retrieved 9 September 2020.

External links[edit]