Thousands of residents evacuated Northern Colorado under plumes of smoke and orange-and-red skies, fleeing two fires burning around the Rocky Mountain National Park that by Friday had capped one of the state’s worst-ever fire seasons.
One of the fires spread more than 100,000 acres in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday, burning houses, threatening resort towns and overwhelming firefighters with its speed and destruction. Officials closed the Rocky Mountain National Park, which spans the Continental Divide and is one of the state’s crown jewels.
The fires now burning, and the Pine Gulch Fire this summer, rank among the four largest wildfires in Colorado history, fueled by climate change and poor forest management, said fire scientist Mark Finney with the U.S. Forest Service Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Montana.
The Cameron Peak Fire, burning for more than two months, is the state’s largest fire in history, having scorched just under