Wildfires continue to rage through Colorado forests, 2 months after 1st eruption

ABC News

BY: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC News

(FORT COLLINS, Colorado) -- Hundreds of thousands of acres in Colorado continue to go up in flames as firefighters fight several wildfires throughout the state, including one that has been burning for over two months.

The Cameron Peak Fire, which began on Aug. 13, is the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado's history, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. The fire, located west of Fort Collins, burned 203,253 acres and was 62% contained as of Sunday afternoon, according to fire officials and the U.S. Forest Service.

About 1,542 firefighters were battling the blaze in different sections, the U.S. Forest Service said in a news release.

"In anticipation of the fire advancing, crews and heavy equipment built contingency lines and focused on structure protection," the agency said in a statement.

Officials said improving weather conditions have helped firefighters -- on Saturday evening, wind speeds were reduced and the humidity shifted to a safer level for the firefighters, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

"Fire managers will take advantage of this weather change to utilize aircraft and employ aggressive fire suppression actions," the agency said in a statement.

A chance of snow Sunday night is expected to bring relief but higher wind gusts are also in the forecast, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

In the meantime, the state is dealing with other smaller fires that are burning in different areas.

The Calwood Fire, located just north of Boulder, erupted Saturday and has burned 8,788, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Firefighters have not contained any part of the blaze as of Sunday afternoon, the agency said.

The East Troublesome Fire, which is located just north of route 40, burned 11,562 acres and was 5% contained as of Sunday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Colorado's fires are part a surge in dangerous wildfires that have spread throughout the West Coast and Rocky Mountain region since the summer.

Scientists and meteorologists say climate change has been the leading factor behind the rise in fires, as rising temperatures, drier air and strong wind gusts have fueled and strengthened the fires.

Last week, there were at least four dozen large uncontained wildfires burning in western states, forcing evacuations in several towns in California and Colorado.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that wildfires in California this year have burned through more than 4.1 million acres, damaged over 5,400 structures and killed eight people.

ABC News' Matt Fuhrman and Daniel Peck contributed to this report.

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