Cameron Peak fire

Cameron Peak fire. Photo courtesy of Cameron Peak official Facebook page.

The largest fire in Colorado history grew another 8,000 acres, reaching 167,153 acres on Thursday, according to the Forest Service's fire website.

The Cameron Peak fire, which has been burning in the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests west of Fort Collins since Aug. 13, is the second fire this summer to reach historic proportions.

The Pine Gulch in the remote, high desert scrubland north of Grand Junction, became the state's largest wildfire ever when it grew to more than 139,000 acres in late August, surpassing the Hayman fire that burned 137,760 acres west of Colorado Springs in 2002.

It held that distinction for less than two months, though, before being surpassed this week by the Cameron Peak fire, which grew about 5,000 acres from Wednesday and another 3,000 acres Thursday, fire officials said.

With containment at 56% and 40 mph winds expected Friday, the Cameron Peak fire is likely to continue spreading unless colder and wetter weather tamps it down, fire officials have said.

Winds, while still gusting Thursday, were not as strong as Wednesday, allowing air attacks to resume, officials said.

The giant blazes this summer have been attributed to the effects of climate change — prolonged drought and extreme heat — that has worsened fire seasons throughout the West.

Cameron Peak fire now largest in Colorado history; Fort Carson crews on Wild Horse fire on alert

The main focus for the more than 1,000 firefighters on the blaze Thursday will be using sprinkler systems to soak areas around structures to ward off flames and embers. 

Mandatory evacuation notices were issued for Lory State Park Wednesday afternoon and closures in Rocky Mountain National Park expanded Thursday as the fire spread near northern sections of the park. The closure includes Lawn Lake Trail. More details on evacuations can be found here.

A new blaze, the East Troublesome fire, broke out Wednesday in Grand County southeast of the Cameron Peak fire. 

About 100 firefighters are attempting to contain the new blaze, which is around 400 acres, a spokeswoman said.

Strong winds up to 40 mph pushed the fire into steep terrain with thick beetle-kill vegetation. Structures in Big Horn Park are threatened forcing residents to evacuate Wednesday night.

In southern Colorado, the Wild Horse fire on Fort Carson along Colorado 115, is estimated at 670 acres and was 60% contained as of Thursday morning, said Fort Carson spokeswoman Brandy Gill.

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@JessySnouwaert

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