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Dry, hot, windy conditions expected throughout Thursday at Pine Gulch Fire

Fire officials provide corrected acreage estimate overnight
Pine Gulch Fire_Aug 10 2020_by Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team
Posted at 8:59 AM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 11:02:46-04

Click here to read the Pine Gulch Fire update from Friday, Aug. 21.

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MESA AND GARFIELD COUNTIES, Colo. — Dry, windy and hot conditions are expected Thursday around the Pine Gulch Fire, which is the second-largest wildfire in Colorado history.

While fire officials said on Wednesday evening that the fire was 125,252 acres, they said Thursday morning that after performing a better assessment of its size overnight, they determined it is actually 121,781 acres.

It remains 14% contained. Firefighters have made "significant progress" on the north and east sides of the fire, the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team said Thursday morning.

Pine Gulch Fire map_Aug 20 2020

The main concerns Thursday are possible lightning and winds up to 45 mph are possible around the fire today, officials said. The storm cells will move over the fire from noon through midnight. The winds could cause extreme fire behavior. While monitoring the weather and its impact on the blaze, firefighters will continue their progress on the southern part of the fire.

The state's 10 largest fires in history, ranked by acreage, are:
1. Hayman Fire (2002): 137,760 acres
2. Pine Gulch Fire (2020): 121,781 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.

READ MORE: The Pine Gulch Fire got hot enough to produce lightning. Here's how that works

New road closures, evacuations announced Wednesday

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office said Wednesday afternoon that due to fire activity, several roads have been closed to the public.

These are the closures southeast of the fire:

  • Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 at North Dry Fork Road/County Road 200
  • V 2/10 Road southwest of DeBeque
  • Coal Canyon Road just past the Cameo Shooting Range

These are the closures southwest of the fire:

  • Highway 139 north of Loma between Mile Point 6 and 39 (CDOT closure)
  • 21 Road north of the BLM boundary
  • 16 Road at V 8/10 Road
  • Q 5/10 Road is closed at 18 Road

The Garfield County Sheriff's Office also announced new evacuation orders Wednesday through their Facebook page.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for areas on the northwest side of Pine Gulch Fire, as follows:

  • From the Mesa County line north to the east/west Colorado Highway 256 (Four A Ridge Road), including north/south Colorado Highway 256
  • Highway 256/205 moved from pre-evacuation to full evacuation
  • From Highway 139/Douglas Pass road east to the preexisting evacuation order for Carr Creek Road/County Road 207), including Colorado Highway 205 Salt Wash and Kimball Creek Road/County Road 202 on Kimball Mountain. Colorado Highway 258/King Road is evacuated.

Roan Creek Road/County Road 204 above Brush Creek Road/County Road 209 is still under evacuation orders.

Everything west of Douglas Pass/Colorado Highway 139 to the Utah state line is in pre-evacuation status.

Residents who were allowed to return home Tuesday remain in pre-evacuation.

To learn more about evacuations, click here.

The Mesa County Sheriff's Office also said they've created an online Fire Information Resource page to keep residents informed.

Residents in the affected counties can sign up to receive alerts and new information on the fire here for Garfield County and here for Mesa County.

Click here to learn more about the smoke outlook in Colorado. A temporary flight restriction is in place over the Pine Gulch Fire. No drones can fly in the area.

The Pine Gulch Fire is one of four major fires currently burning in Colorado. Click here for more Denver7 coverage of the wildfires.