Several wildfires continued to burn into Colorado's landscape and resources Thursday and Friday, keeping some of the state's mountain-dwelling residents and anxiously awaiting evacuation orders.
As firefighters continued to close in on the Black Forest Fire, the Lime Gulch, East Peak, Bull Gulch, Wild Rose and West Fork Fires are all continuing to grow.
Lime Gulch Fire
As firefighters reached 95 percent containment with the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County, another just 30 miles southwest of Denver in Jefferson County prompted a level-three evacuation for residents within a three mile radius of the wildfire before quickly growing into a 500-acre blaze Wednesday night. The Lime Gulch Fire is believed to have been caused by lighting on Tuesday but it really "took off," according to the sheriff, the next day.
"What we learned (from last year's Lower North Fork Fire in the area) is don't take the wind for granted," Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink said during a press conference. "That's why we did a three mile evacuation."
By Thursday, the Lime Gulch Fire had also prompted the closure of Waterton Canyon as a safety precaution, burned between about 500-600 acres and evacuations have remained in effect for about 100 people.
On Friday crews were trying to keep the fire from jumping the South Platte River.
Saturday estimates were that the fire was about 15 percent contained.
However crews made headway Saturday and evacuations were lifted on Saturday around 9 p.m. and the Lime Gulch Fire is now expected to be fully contained on Sunday.
East Peak Fire
Nearer to New Mexico in southern Colorado's Huerfano County, the East Peak Fire is "growing rapidly with zero percent containment," according to a media release. Late Wednesday evening it was reported that the East Peak Fire destroyed a Boy Scout camp and some homes with flames stretching up to 200 feet high. As of Thursday morning authorities said the fire had burned approximately 350 acres with zero percent containment.
An evacuation center for the East Peak Fire was set up by the Red Cross at John Mall High School in Walsenburg. By Thursday afternoon the fire had exploded to 9,000 acres and zero percent containment. The fire also caused the evacuation of 178 Boy Scouts who had been camping in the Spanish Peaks.
Fire officials said by Friday the burn area had grown to 9,400 acres and is still zero percent contained. The fire has destroyed at least 13 structures, nine of which were homes.
Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Friday declaring the East Peak Fire in Huerfano and Las Animas counties a disaster emergency.
“On June 19, 2013, the East Peak Fire was reported to state authorities near the Boy Scout Ranch in the Spanish Peaks area of Huerfano County,” the order said. “This wind-driven fire was quickly growing in size and intensity, prompting the mandatory evacuation of the Boy Scout Ranch and area homes. All available firefighting resources were committed to firefighting and structural protection.”
By Saturday, the East Peak Fire was 10 percent contained and fire crews have said they've confirmed that the fire was started by lightning.
Bull Gulch Fire:
The Bull Gulch Fire is estimated to be about 50 acres in size and is zero percent contained. According to Colorado's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, eight smokejumpers and two 20-person crews will remain on scene working to contain the fire. The cause of the fire remains uncertain and no structures had been lost as of Thursday morning.
By Friday, the Bull Gulch Fire was estimated to reach 150 acres in size and is estimated to be 30 percent contained.
On Saturday the Bull Gulch Fire was 80 percent contained and was said to have burned 76 acres rather than the originally reported 150 acres due to better mapping.
Wild Rose Fire:
The fire in Rio Blanco County had burned about 850 acres as of Wednesday night, prompting the evacuation of a youth camp with about 40 children and an unknown number of adults.
According to The Denver Post, oil and gas facilities are in the immediate surrounding area of the fire.
By Thursday the Wild Rose Fire had grown to about 850 acres.
Fire officials estimate the fire is now 10 percent contained.
Encana Oil and Gas reportedly shut down 500 natural gas wells due to the Wild Rose Fire. The fire has burned 1,065 acres and remains 10 percent contained.
West Fork Fire Complex:
Authorities say the West Fork Fire has picked up on the Windy Pass Fires and has burned 8,375 acres as of Wendnesday evening. According to officials, the fire is less than a mile from the Rio Grande National Forest.
By Thursday, the West Fork Fire Complex had grown to 18,000 acres with smoke so intense it could be seen 200 miles away in Colorado Springs.
On Friday conditions worsened and the entire mountain town of South Fork, Colo. had to be evacuated. The blaze is being fueled by hot, windy weather and beetle kill infestations, and had grown to cover nearly 60 square miles but is finally slowing down.
It is not immediately clear when residents could begin returning to their homes.
By Sunday, the West Fork Complex Fire had burned close to 70,000 acres with crews still protecting the town of South Fork. No structures have been lost and the town of Creede has been put on voluntary evacuation orders.
Black Forest Fire:
The most destructive fire in Colorado history was fully contained Thursday after burning 509 homes and causing the death of two people.
Investigators now say they "have all-but-ruled out natural causes for the fire" and have narrowed down it's point of origin to an area that's 28 feet by 28 feet. The cost of containing the fire is estimated to be $8.5 million.