Discuss as:

Colorado wildfire grows as blazes continue to threaten West

Gregory Bull, AP

Two horses graze on a ridge as smoke from area fires fills the sky Saturday, June 22, 2013, near Monte Vista, Colo. Fire crews with tankers and hoses at the ready stood guard Friday night as a massive and fast-burning wildfire threatened a popular mountain tourist enclave in southwestern Colorado, forcing the evacuation of more than 400 people.

The largest wildfire in Colorado grew over the weekend and officials on Sunday said the massive blaze now covers 110 square miles of the state's open forests.

Although the most destructive fire in Colorado’s history was mostly contained last week, the state and parts of the South West were still experiencing a rash of wildfires on Sunday.

Eleven active fires are currently burning through 139 square miles of Colorado, state emergency officials said. The largest burning fire started on June 5 and was combined into a complex fire on June 16.

The West Fork Complex Fire includes the West Fork, Windy Pass and Papoose wildfires and additional personnel were dispatched on Saturday to keep the fire from spreading to residential and tourist areas.

The town of South Fork, which usually only has 500 residents but swells with summer tourists and cabin-owners, has been evacuated, according to Steve Till, a spokesman for the National Incident Management Organization.

Officials said it was doubtful fire crews could establish any containment lines until there's a break in the weather, possibly Tuesday, because the fire is being fueled by dried timber and the terrain is steep and uneven.

And while the West Fork Complex fire was the largest burning through the region as of Sunday, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah are also struggling to squelch wildfires of their own. Some of the fires have been active for almost three weeks and 19 persist in the state of California.

The second largest fire by acreage burns in New Mexico and is only 20 percent contained, according to officials on Sunday. A fire that erupted north of Prescott, Ariz., on June 18 was only 50 percent contained and is not expected to be fully contained until Wednesday, officials said.

Low humidity, high wind speeds and little precipitation have caused many areas of the five threatened states to be under "red flag" warnings for wildfires. Although lightning reportedly caused a majority of the fires, human actions are being considered as possible causes for a portion of them.

This story was originally published on