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.[2][4] 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.[5] The 2013 Colorado forest fires, fueled by high heat and winds[6] 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

This list only covers the largest, most destructive fires in Colorado History. Colorado State University has information on named fires from 1976 to 2006[7] and total wildfires from 1960 to 2009.[8] 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 [9]).

Year Size Name Area Notes
1994 0,002,115 2,115 acres (856 ha) South Canyon fire Colorado Killed 14 firefighters
2002 0,137,760 137,760 acres (55,750 ha) Hayman Fire in Pike National Forest Colorado 5 firefighter deaths, 133 homes lost, 600 total structures destroyed, largest wildfire in Colorado history by area.[10]
2012 0,450,000 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 0,450,000 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.
2013 0,450,000 14,280 acres (5,780 ha)[11] Black Forest Fire Black Forest, near Colorado Springs The most destructive fire in Colorado state history. The 14,280 acre fire destroyed 511 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.[12] Cause: natural causes eliminated.
2013 0,450,000 3,800 acres (1,500 ha)[13] Royal Gorge Fire Royal Gorge Started June 11, 2013; jumped Royal Gorge and damaged the Royal Gorge Bridge.
2013 0,450,000 13,572 acres (5,492 ha)[14][15] East Peak Fire East Spanish Peak Started June 19, 2013; put the entire town of Walsenburg, Colorado under pre-evacuation status. Cause: Lightning.
2013 0,450,000 110,405 acres (44,679 ha)[15]


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.

See also


  1. Colorado State Forest Service. Wildfire Policy in Transition: Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Colorado State Forest Service. History of Significant Fires on State And Private Lands (acreage and/or home loss and/or fatalities). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "csfs-78-09" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Colorado State Forest Service. Presentation on Wildfire Policy in Transition
  4. Colorado State Forest Service.Colorado Wildfires Broken Down By Decade (with charts).
  5. Associated Press (June 29, 2012). Obama declares disaster in Colorado as fires burn. Fox News
  6. "Fire 30% contained, 473 homes burned". Denver Post. Retrieved 15 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "fire history.xls" (PDF). Colorado State University. Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "COLORADO WILDFIRES STATE AND PRIVATE LANDS" (PDF). Colorado State University. Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. EndPlay (2013-06-21). "7NEWS - Colorado wildfires: 16 fires burning including West Fork Complex, Lime Gulch Fire, East Peak Fire - News Story". Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Hayman Fire & BAER Information". Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Eric GorskiThe Denver "Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs at 75 % containment". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Black Forest Fire 100% Contained; Neighborhoods Open To Residents". Retrieved 2013-07-01.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Major fire erupts in Royal Gorge area: 3,800 acres burning".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "East Peak Fire". InciWeb.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Colorado Wildfire Report: July 8". Colorado Divisionof Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Retrieved 8 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "West Fork Fire West Update". Archuleta County Emergency Information. Retrieved 24 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "inciweb: West Fork Complex Update". inciweb. Retrieved 24 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. West Fork Fire Complex 25 percent contained, 110,028 acres burned

External links