Record heat has produced a surge of new fires burning throughout Colorado and also provided fuel and devastating growth conditions for the fires already burning. There are a total of six major fires burning in Colorado as of Wednesday, all part of the worst wildfire season in a decade.
Since last weekend, temperatures soared to triple digits, there were eight Red Flag Warning days in a row indicating high growth potential for fires and several dry or near-dry lightning storms that sparked new blazes. Firefighters use a scale to measure the conditions for growth potential -- called the "Haines Index," a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the worst -- and a level "6" was reported by fire authorities last weekend and for several days this week. As of Friday, the Index is at a "5," for moderate growth potential.
At least nine major fires were burning across Colorado on Friday:
High Park Fire: The largest of the Colorado fires currently burning is now the second largest fire in state history and was the most destructive until Thursday when damage reports from the Waldo Canyon Fire were released. High Park Fire is now the second most destructive fire in Colorado history. The fire has burned more than 87,284 acres and destroyed 257 homes so far. High Park Fire is 85 percent contained as of Friday. Most residents are expected to return home by the weekend.
Waldo Canyon Fire: Burning west of Colorado Springs, the Waldo Canyon Fire is now the most destructive wildfire in state history. It has burned 16,750 acres as of Friday. 32,000 residents were evacuated Tuesday night when the fire began to surge anew. 346 homes have been destroyed and at least one person is dead. The fire was 15 percent contained as of Friday morning.
Flagstaff Fire: Burning near Boulder, the Flagstaff Fire began Tuesday June 26. As of Friday, it has burned approximately 300 acres and is 40 percent contained, according to The Daily Camera. The prompted the evacuation of 28 homes, but residents were allowed to return home Thursday. Full containment is expected in days, but the burn zone is likely to continue to burn for months.
Little Sand Fire: Burning since May 13, Little Sand Fire has consumed 23,500 acres as of Friday with firefighters having reached 34 percent containment. Located 13 miles northwest of Pagosa Springs, authorities believe the fire was started by lightning in the San Juan National Forest.
Treasure Fire: Burning near Leadville, Treasure fire began burning on Saturday afternoon. 420 acres have been burned as of Friday and the fire is 50 percent contained. The source of the fire is still under investigation but is suspected to be human in cause.
Weber Fire: Burning near Mancos, the fire is estimated to have consumed 9,279 acres as of Friday, according InciWeb.org, after rapidly tripling in size over last weekend. 653 firefighters are battling the fire which is 45 percent contained. The cause of the fire is believed to be human, but remains under investigation.
Eby Creek Fire: Burning in the Castle Peak Ranch are of Eagle County, the Eby Creek Fire burned 8 acres as of Thursday evening and was 10 percent contained, according to 9News.
Lightner Fire: Started by lightning earlier this week, the Lightner Fire has burned 80 acres and is 40 percent contained as of Friday. A pre-evacuation alert was issued for 60 homes in the area. The fire, started by lightning, burned to I-70 in the area and
Pine Ridge Fire: Burning 10 miles northeast of Grand Junction, the Pine Ridge Fire was started by lightning and has burned 12,047 acres and is 5 percent contained as of Friday.
LOOK at the fires burning around the state:
AP NATIONAL WILDFIRE TRACKER: