DENVER — California’s wildfires have shattered the state’s previous record, burning four million acres in the state so far this year. Colorado has also experienced a wildfire year for the record books, but on a smaller scale.
This year’s biggest fires have burned at least 320,450 acres in the state so far, a total that equals just over 500 square miles. To put that into perspective, California’s wildfires have burned 6,250 square miles in a state that is 163,696 square miles. Colorado takes up 104,185 square miles.
>>> Watch the video above for an account of what it's like to cover California's wildfires as a journalist.
The Pine Gulch Fire, which started burning on the Western Slope on July 31 and was contained in September, is the largest in the state’s history, burning 139,007 acres – or 217 square miles.
The Cameron Peak Fire, which started burning in the Roosevelt National Forest on Aug. 13, is 126,251 acres as of this writing. That’s the equivalent of roughly 197 square miles, and now the third-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
The Hayman Fire in 2002 burned 137,760 acres, and is the state’s second largest fire.
It’s worth mentioning that the Mullen Fire, which started burning in Medicine Bow Mountains west of Laramie in Wyoming on Sept. 17, is now 151,711 acres and has crossed the Colorado border into Jackson County. Since there’s not a definitive number for the acreage of this fire burning in Colorado, it was not included in our overall total.
To put all this into perspective, California’s August Complex Fire has burned 1,002,097 acres since Aug. 17. That’s equal to 1,565 square miles.
Here’s a look at the size of other largest wildfires that burned in Colorado this year.
The Middle Fork Fire
Size: 8,875 acres (13 square miles)
The Middle Fork Fire is burning in the Routt National Forest north of Steamboat Springs. It is 0% contained.
Grizzly Creek Fire
Size: 32,431 acres (50 square miles)
The Grizzly Creek Fire started burning on Aug. 10 in Glenwood Canyon and is now 91% contained.
Williams Fork Fire
Size: 13,727 acres (21 square miles)
The Williams Fork Fire started burning on Aug. 14 about 9.5 miles southwest of Fraser. This fire is confirmed to have been human-caused.
Size: 159 acres (0.24 square miles)
The Thorpe Fire, which is now 100% contained, started burning on Aug. 13 nine miles northwest of Lake George.
Note: All of the numbers used in this article as courtesy InciWeb as of Oct. 5.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Colorado wildfires