World

Colorado wildfire jumps Continental Divide, threatens mountain towns

An explosive Colorado wildfire that has already forced the evacuation of several mountain communities and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park blackened another 18,200 hectares on Thursday as it jumped the Continental Divide.

East Troublesome Fire was only about 5% contained as of Thursday afternoon

Fires are shown north of Granby, Colo., just before sunset on Wednesday. Residents in and around a gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park have evacuated and the park was closed after one of several fires burning in northern Colorado exploded late Wednesday. (Jessy Ellenberger via The Associated Press)

An explosive Colorado wildfire that has already forced the evacuation of several mountain communities and the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park blackened another 18,200 hectares on Thursday as it jumped the Continental Divide.

The East Troublesome Fire, which broke out on Oct. 14, has now burned 68,800 hectares and was only about five per cent contained as of Thursday afternoon, incident commander Noel Livingston said at a news briefing.

The flames have spread into Rocky Mountain National Park, prompting the National Park Service to close the entire 668-square-kilometre expanse. The blaze has become the second largest on record in Colorado.

The closure of the national park is in addition to more than 400,000 hectares of wilderness in Colorado that the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and state authorities have deemed off limits to the public.

(CBC News)

Snow, colder weather predicted

The National Weather Service was forecasting continued hot, dry, windy conditions in much of Colorado, but snow and much colder weather are expected this weekend.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin has ordered evacuations in the area, including the tiny lakeside community of Grand Lake, which has a population of about 470.

The fire is among the latest in a brutal fire season, following a long period of drought across Colorado. The cause remains under investigation.

Bales of hay and implements sit on a farm as flames illuminate a nearby ridge as a wildfire burns near Granby, Colo., on Thursday. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

Further north, the Cameron Peak Fire has been burning since mid-August, setting the state record for largest wildfire. It has burned more than 83,770 hectares overall and scorched swaths of Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

The two fires are just 18 kilometres apart, but Livingston said it was unlikely they could merge into a massive conflagration.

On Tuesday, helicopters rescued 23 hikers and three dogs from San Juan National Forest, where the small but dangerous Ice Fire had broken out on Monday in Colorado's southwestern corner, near the small former mining town of Silverton.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now