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Three of four big Colorado fires grow; fourth is stable; emergency declared

by Sam Tabachnik, Denver Post |

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of disaster emergency Saturday because of the Pine Gulch Fire in Mesa and Garfield counties, enabling state agencies to coordinate and making resources available for fire suppression, response, consequence management, and recovery efforts. Polis activated the National Guard Friday to assist the State Emergency Operations Center and incident commanders fighting wildfires.

Wildfires continue to burn across Colorado, as additional resources arrive to help crews on the front lines. An air quality health advisory is in effect for much of the state because of the smoke.

The Pine Gulch Fire grew slightly overnight Friday and is now burning 126,613 acres – 198 square miles – with 19 percent containment, fire officials said Saturday morning.

Crews plan to continue fire operations in the northwest corner of the fire along 266 Road, officials said, tying it in to Colorado 139. The rough landscape has limited firefighters in some areas, but they hope to break the vegetation to gain containment, officials said.

Pine Gulch remains the second-largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history.

>> Grizzly Creek

The Grizzly Creek Fire remained stable overnight as it continues to burn 29,928 acres — 47 square miles — with 22 percent containment, officials said Saturday morning.

Crews achieved containment to the northwest at the Interstate 70 corridor and No Name drainage, officials said, as well as from Coffee Pot Road to I-70.

Additionally, firefighters reported minimal growth Friday in No Name and Grizzly Creek drainages.

≥≥ Cameron Peak

The Cameron Peak Fire expanded by 644 acres overnight and is now burning 17,246 acres with no containment, officials said Saturday.

The fire’s growth Friday led to evacuation orders for a sparsely populated area on the southeast part of the fire, as well as voluntary evacuation notices to others. Those voluntary evacuations include the area of County Road 44H, from Pennock Pass east to County Road 27, as well as residences to the south using County Road 44H as access.

No structures have been damaged and no firefighters have been injured in the fire burning across Larimer County.

>> Williams Fork

The Williams Fork Fire grew by 149 acres overnight Friday and is now burning 10,437 acres – 16 square miles – with 3 percent containment, fire officials said Saturday.

Friday’s favorable weather kept the fire from spreading rapidly, allowing crews to create additional containment lines on the west and southwest areas of the fire, officials said.

Higher temperatures and low humidity over the weekend could bring further fire growth. Additional resources and personnel are arriving to continue suppression efforts, officials said.