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.

The Hayman Fire was the largest wildfire in Colorado state history, part of the 2002 Colorado wildfires.[4][5] 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.[6] The 2013 Colorado forest fires, fueled by high heat and winds[7] 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[8] and total wildfires from 1960 to 2009.[9] According to CSU, wildfires in Colorado destroyed 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. Major named wildfires for 2012 through June 24, 2012 had burned close to 250,000 acres (below and [10]).

Year Size Name Area Notes
1950 about 45 square miles 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.
1952 2,000 acres (810 ha) George Creek fire Roosevelt National Forest, north of Red Feather Lakes.
1952 3,000 acres (1,200 ha) Tallahassee Creek fire West of Cañon City, Colorado.
1962 1,064 acres (431 ha) Resthouse fire Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County, Colorado.
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
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 a helicopter crash.
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.
1989 1,912 acres (774 ha) Black Tiger fire West of Boulder, Colorado 44 homes burned.
1994 2,115 acres (856 ha) South Canyon fire Glenwood Springs, Colorado Killed 14 firefighters
1996 11,875 acres (4,806 ha) Buffalo Creek fire Pike National Forest south of Pine, Colorado Destroyed 12 homes.
2000 11,021 acres (4,460 ha) Hi Meadow fire Pine, Colorado 58 structures burned in one of the most destructive Colorado wildfires.
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.
2002 137,760 acres (55,750 ha) Hayman Fire Pike National Forest, Colorado 5 firefighter deaths, 133 homes lost, 600 total structures destroyed, largest wildfire in Colorado history by area.[11]
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 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
2005 11,357 acres (4,596 ha) Mason fire Beulah, 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 Destroyed 172 structures. Was the most destructive Colorado wildfire at the time.
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.
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
2012 87,284 acres (35,323 ha) High Park Fire Roosevelt National Forest, West of Fort Collins Started by lightning, it is the third largest wildfire in Colorado state history by area. It 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.

2012 18,247 acres (7,384 ha) Waldo Canyon Fire Colorado Springs area Located near Pikes Peak, north and west of Colorado Springs in the Waldo Canyon - origin currently unknown - first reported the afternoon of Saturday, June 23. Destroyed 346 homes, formally the most destructive fire until the Black Forest Fire of 2013. Two fatalities.
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.
2013 14,280 acres (5,780 ha)[12] Black Forest Fire Black Forest, near Colorado Springs The most destructive fire in Colorado state history. The 14,280 acre fire destroyed 488 homes and left 28 homes partially damaged. ATF and state officials are investigating the point of origin and cause of the blaze that claimed the lives of two people.[13] Cause: natural causes eliminated.
2013 3,800 acres (1,500 ha)[14] 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)[15][16] 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)[16][17][18][19] West Fork Fire Complex Wolf Creek Pass The second largest fire in Colorado history by area. 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
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.
2016 18,761 acres (7,592 ha) Junkins fire San Isabel National Forest west of Beulah, Colorado
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.
2017 11,981 acres (4,849 ha) Peekaboo fire Northwest Moffat County, Colorado
2017 18,804 acres (7,610 ha) Dead Dog fire Rangely, Colorado
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 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 34,161+ Acres 416 Fire Durango, Colorado The fire started June 1st, 2018 about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado. It is currently still growing in size, and has reached 34,161+ acres of burned area and stands at 25% contained.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Wildfire Policy in Transition: Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors.
  2. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. History of Significant Fires on State And Private Lands (acreage and/or home loss and/or fatalities).
  3. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Presentation on Wildfire Policy in Transition
  4. ^ Colorado State Forest Service. Colorado Wildfires, State & Private Lands, 1978-2009.
  5. ^ Colorado State Forest Service.Colorado Wildfires Broken Down By Decade (with charts).
  6. ^ Associated Press (June 29, 2012). Obama declares disaster in Colorado as fires burn. Fox News
  7. ^ "Fire 30% contained, 473 homes burned". Denver Post. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "fire history.xls" (PDF). Colorado State University. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  9. ^ "COLORADO WILDFIRES STATE AND PRIVATE LANDS" (PDF). Colorado State University. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  10. ^ "7NEWS - Colorado wildfires: 16 fires burning including West Fork Complex, Lime Gulch Fire, East Peak Fire - News Story". 7NEWS. 2013-06-21. Archived from the original on 23 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  11. ^ "Hayman Fire & BAER Information". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  12. ^ Eric Gorski. "Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs at 75 % containment". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  13. ^ "Black Forest Fire 100% Contained; Neighborhoods Open To Residents". Retrieved 2013-07-01. 
  14. ^ "Major fire erupts in Royal Gorge area: 3,800 acres burning". 
  15. ^ "East Peak Fire". InciWeb. 
  16. ^ a b "Colorado Wildfire Report: July 8". Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  17. ^ "West Fork Fire West Update". Archuleta County Emergency Information. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "inciweb: West Fork Complex Update". inciweb. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  19. ^ Ryan Parker (July 5, 2013). "West Fork Fire Complex 25 percent contained, 110,028 acres burned". The Denver Post. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  20. ^ "Evacuations lifted in Hermosa area; residents, businesses can return". The Durango Herrald. 2018-06-17. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 

External links[edit]