ROUTT COUNTY, Colo. – Two large wildfires burning in Colorado are among more than six dozen blazes currently burning across the American West, prompting evacuations in several states as well as health warnings due to smoky air.
The newest fire in Colorado is the Deep Creek fire, which started Monday in Routt County, in northern Colorado. Officials say the biggest challenge with this fire is getting resources, because so many crews from the area are deployed to major fires burning out west.
Deep Creek fire
The Deep Creek Fire started Monday north of Hayden and was burning more than 2,000 acres as of Tuesday afternoon. Officials said the fire was zero percent contained and fire crews were focused on fighting the fire from above and protecting structures.
One ranch was evacuated. Residents in the area have been given pre-evacuation notices so that they can be ready to leave if need be. Officials said there are 42 addresses within a five-mile radius of the fire.
Wyoming Hotshots arrived Tuesday night. They will be joined Wednesday by a Type 2 team, which indicates the fire is increasing in complexity.
It’s unclear what sparked the fire but crews are leaning toward a possible lightning strike.
Big Red fire
The lightning-caused Big Red fire just south of the Colorado-Wyoming state line began earlier this month but continues to grow.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire had burned more than 1,400 acres and was zero percent contained. Officials said continuing warm temperatures and gusty winds will likely help the fire continue to spread
Wildfires burning across the West
More than 80 large fires are currently burning on about 1.4 million acres in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency earlier this week as firefighters battled a huge fire near Los Angeles.
In Oregon, a fast-moving fire east of Portland has forced hundreds of people out of their homes and shut down a major freeway through the Columbia River Gorge.
And in Montana, a devastating fire near Glacier National Park has burned 21 square miles and driven tourists out of some of the park’s most popular areas.
The national fire preparedness level is currently 5 – the highest level – and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho is mobilizing active duty military members to help with firefighting efforts. Officials are asking the U.S. Department of Defense for 200 military personnel to help out.