MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES, Colo. — The Pine Gulch Fire in Colorado grew more than 37,000 acres Tuesday night into Wednesday, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. It's now 125,108 acres and the second-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
At more than 125,000 acres, the fire has surpassed the size of 2018's 108,045-acre Spring Fire.
The Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said firefighting efforts at the Pine Gulch Fire are doing well on the northern and eastern side of the fire, but strong winds from a thunderstorm overnight caused the fire to expand westward.
The fire produced hours of lightning Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service out of Grand Junction. NWS explained that under the right circumstances, a pyrocumulus cloud can form and create lightning and thunder at the fire.
Vigorous pyrocumulus growth associated with the #PineGulchFire (seen here via GOES 16) has produced frequent lightning flashes (blue dots in the image) the last few hours. Thunder, lightning and falling ash have all been observed here at the office. Absolutely wild! 🔥⚡ #COwx pic.twitter.com/F7qIzaoNi7
— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) August 19, 2020
Fire supervisors were assessing the situation around 8:45 a.m., according to the incident management team.
As of Tuesday evening, the fire was 87,778 acres and was 7% contained. Click here for an interactive map of the fire.
The Pine Gulch Fire is now the second-largest wildfire in Colorado history.
The state's 10 largest fires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
2. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 125,108 acres
3. Spring Fire (2018): 108,045 acres
4. High Park Fire (2012): 87,284 acres
5. Missionary Ridge Fire (2002): 72,962 acres
6. 416 Fire (2018): 54,000 acres
7. Bridger Fire (2008): 45,800 acres
8. Last Chance Fire (2012): 45,000 acres
9. Bear Springs/Callie Marie fires (2011): 44,662 acres
10. 117 Fire (2018): 42,795 acres
The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center said the West Fork Complex fire, which burned a total of 109,632 acres in 2013, is not included on this list since it involved three separate fires.
The Pine Gulch Fire was first reported on July 31 about 18 miles north of Grand Junction. It was caused by lightning.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday evening that a pre-evacuation order was issued for the areas of County Road 205, Kimball Mountain Road and County Road 256 between Kimball Mountain Road and Browns Point after the fire spotted in the northwest corner of the fire area, which grew to 100 acres.
This story was originally published by Stephanie Butzer at KMGH.