Colorado's High Park Fire, ignited June 9 by a lightning strike to a tree in Roosevelt National Forest, has expanded to 56,000 acres and destroyed at least 181 structures, a new state record for wildfire destruction, by June 18.
To put that in perspective, the burn area is now larger than the entire cities of Boulder and Fort Collins, Colo. combined, and qualifies as the third largest fire in Colorado history.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO OF TREE, HIGH PARK FIRE SLIDESHOW)
On June 10, NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the massive smoke plume and snapped some pictures giving us a wide view of the scope of the fire. At that point the fire was an estimated 20,000 acres in size, yet the smoke reached well into Wyoming and Nebraska.
Now we get a photo that gives us a close look of where the fire started. Over the weekend as firefighters continued to battle the blaze and high winds prompted new evacuations, the U.S. Forest Service released an undated photo of the tree where it all started. The tree trunk appears to have been blown apart from the lightning strike and charred from the ensuing fire while still green trees look virtually unscathed in the background.
LOOK U.S. Forest Service photo of tree that was struck by lightning:
For the latest updates on the High Park Fire and official fire maps, visit InciWeb.org.