Firefighters and support personnel across the West were battling at least 58 major fires in nine Western states on Tuesday, the National Interagency Fire Center said. Thus far this year, 46,148 wildfires have burned more than 13,000 square miles, almost 3,300 square miles above the 10-year average.
In the state of Colorado, the Cameron Peak Fire has burned more than 320 square miles in Larimer County since August and is the largest fire in Colorado history. The fire in the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests was listed as 51% contained on Tuesday. And thousands of people have fled the CalWood fire that authorities say has destroyed an undetermined number of homes.
The Ice Fire in a recreation are in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, the latest in a series of fires raging for months in Colorado, began burning Monday afternoon in the South Mineral Creek area near a trail head in the San Juan National Forest, the county Office of Emergency Management said in a statement.
The Sheriff’s Department evacuated campers and hikers from the area, including 23 hikers and three dogs flown out via helicopters.
A few hours later the blaze had burned 320 acres as the Forest Service deployed helicopters, tanker planes and a “hot shot” squad in an effort to contain the flames. The squads generally include 20-22 firefighters sent to combat the most challenging sections of the nation’s high-priority fires.
The weather forecast for much of the West wasn’t helpful. “Warm and dry conditions will continue over much of the Southwest, Great Basin and California,” the agency said.
This is an ongoing event and will be updated as changes occur.