One of the most significant fires in United States history was The Big Blowup of 1910. 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 10 am. The policy evolved over the 20th century.
Part of the 2002 Colorado wildfires that burned nearly 360,000 acres, the Hayman Fire was the largest wildfire in Colorado state history for nearly 20 years until the Pine Gulch Fire surpassed it in August 2020. The Cameron Peak Fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado history seven weeks later, at a size of 206,667 burned acres as of October 21, 2020. 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. The 2013 Colorado forest fires, fueled by high heat and winds again broke the record for the most destructive and included what was the second largest fire (by area) in Colorado history until being surpassed by several fires in 2020. With multiple record-breaking fires, the 2020 Colorado wildfire season became the largest in the state's history after burning 665,454 acres (269,300 ha).
List of firesEdit
This list only covers the largest, most destructive fires in Colorado history. Colorado State University (CSU) has information on named fires from 1976 to 2006 and total wildfires from 1960 to 2009. According to CSU, wildfires in Colorado burned less than 100,000 acres (40,469 ha) per decade over the 1960s and the 1970s. For the 1980s and 1990s, the total was over 200,000 acres (80,937 ha) per decade. For the 2000s, the total was approximately 200,000 acres (80,937 ha). Notable fires from before 1980 are also included, sourced mainly from old newspapers and records. All fires greater than 40,000 acres (16,187 ha) and all but one over 20,000 acres (8,094 ha) occurred in the 21st century. Acreage of fires that are partly in Colorado are indicated in red.
|1924||2,000 acres (810 ha)||Jim Creek fire||Winter Park, Colorado, Moffat Tunnel west portal.|
|1927||135 acres (55 ha)||Payne Gulch fire||South of Bailey, Colorado, Pike National Forest.|
|1932||600 acres (240 ha)||Tolland fire||Tolland, Colorado.|
|1934||300 acres (120 ha)||East Portal fire||West of Tolland, Colorado, Moffat Tunnel east portal.|
|1934||300 acres (120 ha)||Hourglass fire||Topaz Mountain, Pike National Forest.|
|1938||700 acres (280 ha)||Black Canyon fire||East of Tolland, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.|
|1939||1,009 acres (408 ha)||Panhandle fire||Northwest of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.|
|1939||1,319 acres (534 ha)||Granite Mountain fire||Granite, Colorado, San Isabel National Forest.|
|1939||657 acres (266 ha)||Mammoth Mountain fire||Platoro, Colorado, Rio Grande National Forest.|
|1942||500 acres (200 ha)||Green Ridge fire||East of Yampa, Colorado, Routt National Forest.|
|1944||900 acres (360 ha)||Glendevey fire||Glendevey, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest.|
|1944||700 acres (280 ha)||Hell's Hole fire||West of Wolcott, Colorado.|
|1948||14,000 acres (5,700 ha)||Weld County grass fire||Kersey, Colorado.|
|1950||28,800 acres (11,700 ha)||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.|
|1950||2,000 acres (810 ha)||Grand Mesa fire||Grand Mesa, west of Cedaredge, Colorado.|
|1951||350 acres (140 ha)||Fremont Peak fire||Royal Gorge||Threatened the Royal Gorge bridge.|
|1951||6,000 acres (2,400 ha)||Trailer Draw fire||Douglas Mountain, Moffat County, Colorado|
|1952||2,000 acres (810 ha)||Roosevelt fire||Roosevelt National Forest, north of Red Feather Lakes.|
|1952||3,000 acres (1,200 ha)||Tallahassee Creek fire||West of Cañon City, Colorado.|
|1952||200 acres (81 ha)||Owl's Head fire||Near Mount Evans|
|1952||1,600 acres (650 ha)||Goose Creek fire||South of Creede, Colorado.||Burned in an area so rugged in the Rio Grande National Forest that firefighters had to hike in five miles from the nearest road. Caused by hunters.|
|1956||600 acres (240 ha)||Devil's Canyon fire||Southwest of Idaho Springs, Colorado, in the Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County.|
|1956||300 acres (120 ha)||North Fork fire||Rocky Mountain National Park, northwest of Glen Haven, Colorado|
|1958||300 acres (120 ha)||Deadman fire||West of Red Feather Lakes|
|1959||2,107 acres (853 ha)||Morefield fire||Mesa Verde National Park|
|1962||1,064 acres (431 ha)||Resthouse fire||Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek County, Colorado.|
|1962||2,200 acres (890 ha)||Bear Creek fire||Somerset, Colorado|
|1963||2,100 acres (850 ha)||Wildcat Canyon fire||Pike National Forest, southwest of Cheeseman Lake||Escaped prescribed fire that jumped the South Platte River.|
|1966||470 acres (190 ha)||Comanche fire||Comanche Reservoir, Roosevelt National Forest|
|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|
|1972||2,317 acres (938 ha)||Moccasin Mesa fire||Mesa Verde National Park|
|1972||1,550 acres (630 ha)||Irish Canyon fire||Northwestern Moffat County||Helicopter crashed while working on this fire. No fatalities.|
|1972||1,565 acres (633 ha)||Plug Hat fires||North of Dinosaur, Colorado||Two fires, about 900 and 700 acres.|
|1974||115 acres (47 ha)||Gold Hill fire||Gold Hill, Colorado||Immediately south of Gold Hill, Colorado. 1 structure destroyed. Human caused.|
|1974||375 acres (152 ha)||Jefferson Lake fire||West of Kenosha Pass, 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 an airtanker crash.|
|1976||230 acres (93 ha)||Comforter Mountain fire||Boulder Canyon, Colorado|
|1977||500 acres (200 ha)||Ox Yoke fire||Deckers, Colorado|
|1977||1,400 acres (570 ha)||Meadow Lake fire||Northwest of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, White River National Forest|
|1977||4,170 acres (1,690 ha)||Deep Creek fire||Northwest of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, White River National Forest|
|1978||1,122 acres (454 ha)||Kilpecker fire||West of Red Feather Lakes|
|1978||6,300 acres (2,500 ha)||Overholt fire||Maybell, Colorado|
|1978||2,300 acres (930 ha)||Maes Creek fire||Greenhorn Mountain, San Isabel National Forest|
|1978||400 acres (160 ha)||Reservoir fire||Idaho Springs Reservoir, Arapaho National Forest|
|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.|
|1988||15,438 acres (6,248 ha)||I Do fire||South of Sunbeam, Colorado, Moffat County.||Surpassed the Emerald Lake fire as largest in the state's history. Named for a Bureau of Land Management firefighter who was married the day the fire broke out.|
|1989||2,100 acres (850 ha)||Black Tiger Fire||West of Boulder, Colorado||44 homes and structures burned in under six hours. At the time, it was Colorado's most destructive wildfire in terms of property loss and damage.|
|1993||9,917 acres (4,013 ha)||Wapiti fire||Sunbeam, Colorado|
|1993||12,410 acres (5,020 ha)||Sunbeam fire||Sunbeam, Colorado|
|1994||13,234 acres (5,356 ha)||Black Ridge fire||South of Durango, Colorado|
|1994||2,115 acres (856 ha)||South Canyon fire||Glenwood Springs, Colorado||Sometimes referred to as the "Storm King Mountain fire". Killed 14 firefighters.|
|1996||11,875 acres (4,806 ha)||Buffalo Creek fire||Pike National Forest south of Pine, Colorado||Destroyed 12 homes.|
|1996||15,872 acres (6,423 ha)||O'Pinion fire||Moffat County, Colorado, south of U.S. 40|
|2000||16,000 acres (6,500 ha)||Kiowa County fire||Kiowa County, Colorado.|
|2000||11,021 acres (4,460 ha)||Hi Meadow fire||Pine, Colorado||Burned 58 structures and caused more than $15 million in damages. Ignited by a cigarette.|
|2000||10,599 acres (4,289 ha)||Bobcat Gulch fire||West of Loveland, Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest||Caused by a campfire in the Bobcat Gulch on June 12, 2000 and caused the loss of 22 structures.|
|2000||23,607 acres (9,553 ha)||Bircher fire||Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado||Largest fire in Mesa Verde National Park history.|
|2000||11,033 acres (4,465 ha)||Buster Flats fire||Northwestern Moffat County, Colorado.|
|2002||10,000 acres (4,000 ha)||Lincoln County Complex fire||Lincoln County, Colorado|
|2002||137,760 acres (55,750 ha)||Hayman Fire||Pike National Forest, Colorado||Fifth largest fire in Colorado history by area. 5 firefighter deaths, 133 homes lost, 600 total structures destroyed, more than $42 million in damages. Caused by arson.|
|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||13,490 acres (5,460 ha)||Spring Creek Complex fire||North of Glenwood Springs, Colorado||Spring Creek and East Meadow Creek fires|
|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|
|2004||4,188 acres (1,695 ha)||Campbell Fire||11 miles north of Nucla, Colorado||BLM and Uncompahgre National Forest.|
|2005||11,357 acres (4,596 ha)||Mason fire||Beulah, Colorado|
|2006||15,400 acres (6,200 ha)||Yuma County fire||Yuma County, Colorado|
|2006||13,820 acres (5,590 ha)||Mato Vega fire||La Veta Pass, 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||Caused by an extinguished fire pit that reignited. Destroyed 172 structures and was the most destructive Colorado wildfire at the time.|
|2011||12,310 acres (4,980 ha)||Fort Lyons fire||John Martin Reservoir, Bent County, Colorado|
|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.|
|2011||14,651 acres (5,929 ha)||Shell Complex fire||Las Animas County, Colorado||Consisted of the Shell and Brice fires.|
|2011||3,200 acres (1,300 ha)||Crystal fire||Roosevelt National Forest, West of Loveland/Fort Collins, Colorado||15 primary structures burned|
|2012||7,685 acres (3,110 ha)||Hewlett Gulch fire||Arapaho National Forest & Roosevelt National Forest, West of Fort Collins, Colorado|
|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. Eighth largest wildfire in Colorado state history by area. 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, northwest of Colorado Springs in the Waldo Canyon – origin currently unknown – first reported the afternoon of Saturday, June 23. Destroyed 346 homes; the most destructive fire until the Black Forest Fire of 2013. Two fatalities.|
|2012||45,000 acres (18,000 ha)||Last Chance fire||Last Chance, Colorado||Began south of Last Chance, Colorado, by sparks from a tire blowout. Burned 11 structures.|
|2012||10,147 acres (4,106 ha)||Weber fire||Mancos, Colorado|||
|2012||13,863 acres (5,610 ha)||Pine Ridge fire||West of De Beque, Colorado|||
|2012||3,500 acres (1,400 ha)||Fern Lake fire||Rocky Mountain National Park|||
|2013||14,280 acres (5,780 ha)||Black Forest Fire||Black Forest, near Colorado Springs||The most destructive fire in Colorado state history until 2020. Destroyed 511 homes, left 28 homes partially damaged, and claimed the lives of two people. Cause: natural causes eliminated.|
|2013||3,800 acres (1,500 ha)||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)||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)||West Fork Fire Complex||Wolf Creek Pass||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|
|2015||11,699 acres (4,734 ha)||Gutterson Ranch fire||U.S. 34 north of Keenesburg, 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||Destroyed 26 structures.|
|2016||205 acres (83 ha)||Chatridge Fire||Highlands Ranch, Colorado||Caused by faulty utility pole operated by Xcel Energy. Highway 85 was closed down for a couple hours and more than 850 homes were evacuated.|
|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||12,839 acres (5,196 ha)||Peekaboo fire||Northwest Moffat County, Colorado||Cause: Lightning/natural.|
|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||10,330 acres (4,180 ha)||Stateline fire||Las Animas County, Colorado and Union County, New Mexico||Started in New Mexico and burned into Colorado. Blackened over 28,000 acres.|
|2018||42,795 acres (17,319 ha)||MM 117 fire||El Paso County, Colorado||23 homes destroyed|
|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||54,129 acres (21,905 ha)||416 & Burro Fire Complex||Durango, Colorado||The fire started June 1, 2018 about 10 miles north of Durango, Colorado.|
|2018||108,045 acres (43,724 ha)||Spring Creek Fire||Fort Garland, Colorado / La Veta, Colorado / Sangre de Cristo Mountains||The fire started June 27, 2018 about 9 miles NE of Ft. Garland, CO. The fire reached 108,045 acres of burned area. It was declared 100% contained on September 10, 2018. More than 140 homes were lost to the fire. At least 120 others have been damaged. The fire was human caused and the suspect faces 141 counts of first-degree arson – one count for each home destroyed by the fire.|
|2018||13,023 acres (5,270 ha)||Weston Pass Fire||Fairplay, Colorado|
|2018||19,955 acres (8,076 ha)||Divide fire||Moffat County, Colorado|
|2018||20,120 acres (8,140 ha)||Silver Creek fire||Northwest of Kremmling, Colorado|
|2018||12,588 acres (5,094 ha)||Lake Christine Fire||Basalt, Colorado|
|2018||19,634 acres (7,946 ha)||Plateau fire||McPhee Reservoir|
|2018||36,520 acres (14,780 ha)||Bull Draw fire||North of Nucla, Colorado|
|2019||8,959 acres (3,626 ha)||Decker fire||Rio Grande National Forest and San Isabel National Forest south of Salida, Colorado||Caused by lightning in early September and was allowed to burn while being supervised in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Fire flared up jumping Methodist Mt. threatening homes south of Salida.|
|2020||11,818 acres (4,783 ha)||Cherry Canyon Fire||37º 22' 3" −103º 27' 1"||Caused by lightning, Sunday, May 27.|
|2020||2,905 acres (1,176 ha)||East Canyon Fire||19 Miles East of Cortez, Colorado||Caused by lightning, initial attack on Sunday, June 14 at 12:41 pm. The pre-positioned Durango Interagency Type 3 team responded to the initial attack and managed the fire until the Rocky Mountain Type 2 Blue Team assumed command of the fire on Tuesday June 16, 2020. The fire transitioned back to a local Type 3 organization on Wednesday, June 24 at 6:00 a.m.|
|2020||139,007 acres (56,254 ha)||Pine Gulch Fire||18 Miles North of Grand Junction||Caused by lightning, initial attack on Friday, July 31, after 5 pm. On 27 Aug 2020, Pine Gulch wildfire became the largest fire in Colorado history, only to be surpassed two months later by the Cameron Peak Fire. Suppression costs are $35,000,000.|
|2020||3,226 acres (1,306 ha)||Fawn Creek Fire||39º 45' 44", 108º 25' 7"||Caused by lightning, July 13, 2020. Suppression costs are $2,285,000.|
|2020||461 acres (187 ha)||Chatridge 2 Fire||Highlands Ranch, Colorado||Started due to a faulty utility pole operated by Xcel Energy. Large tankers operating out of Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport(KBJC) assisted in firefighting operations.|
|2020||32,431 acres (13,124 ha)||Grizzly Creek Fire||Glenwood Canyon||Started along Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon. Structures destroyed: 3. Suppression costs: $36,000,000.|
|2020||208,663 acres (84,443 ha)||Cameron Peak Fire||6 miles North of Cameron Pass (Colorado), Roosevelt National Forest||Started August 13, cause under investigation. On 14 Oct 2020 the fire became the largest wildfire in Colorado history. Structures destroyed: 461. Suppression costs: $134 million.|
|2020||14,577 acres (5,899 ha)||Williams Fork fire||Williams Fork Drainage in the Arapaho National Forest, southwest of Fraser.||Started August 14, human-caused. (Size as of 13 October 2020). Suppression costs: $22,470,000.(costs as of October 14, 2020)|
|2020||165 acres (67 ha)||Lewstone Fire||Lewstone Creek between Highway 14 and Rist Canyon||Started on August 22 and was 100% contained on August 25.|
|2020||20,433 acres (8,269 ha)||Middle Fork Fire||Routt National Forest||Caused by lightning, started in Routt National Forest. (Size as of 25 October 2020) Suppression costs: $5,819,235.00.(costs as of October 14, 2020)|
|2020||176,878 acres (71,580 ha)||Mullen Fire*||Medicine Bow National Forest||This fire originated in Wyoming on September 17, and burned into Colorado on October 1. Most of the acreage of this fire is located in Wyoming. Size as of 17 October 2020. Structures destroyed: 66. Suppression costs: $34,599,924.(costs and structures destroyed as of October 15, 2020)|
|2020||192,560 acres (77,930 ha)||East Troublesome Fire||Arapaho National Forest||Began on 10/14/2020 at 4:00 pm North of Parshall, Colorado causing the deaths of at least 2 elderly people. Cause under investigation. Colorado's second largest wildfire and the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history until the Marshal Fire of 2021, with estimated insured losses totaled $543 million ($560 in 2021 dollars) resulting from approximately 1,602 homeowner and auto insurance claims filed.|
|2020||10,095 acres (4,085 ha)||Calwood Fire||Reported at noon on 10/17/2020, North of Jamestown, Colorado. .|
|2020||460 acres (190 ha)||Lefthand Canyon Fire||Discovered 12:41:00 p.m. 10/18/2020, Near Ward, Colorado.|
|2021||1,600 acres (650 ha)||Marshall Fire||Boulder, Colorado||Reported approximately 10:30 am on 12/30/2021 near Marshall, Colorado. High winds swept the grass fire eastward through the towns of Superior and Louisville, Colorado, causing the evacuation of more than 30,000 people and a loss of $513,212,589 in under six hours. There were 1084 residential structures destroyed and 149 residential structures damaged.|
|2022||190 acres (78 ha)||NCAR Fire||Boulder, Colorado||Reported around 2:00 pm Saturday, March 26.|
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