By Ben Warwick

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Pine Gulch Fire has set a grim record. It has grown to 139,006 acres and is now the largest wildfire Colorado has ever seen.

Pine Gulch Fire (credit: Inciweb)

The fire started on July 31, sparked by lightning on remote federal land north of Grand Junction. It’s been burning in dry, rough terrain, in pinyon, juniper, oak, and sage brush. Soaring temperatures consistently reaching more than 90 degrees and approaching 100 degrees have dried out the fuel, helping the wildfire to grow.

The Hayman Fire, which burned 137,760 acres in east central Colorado in the summer of 2002, had long been the state’s largest blaze.

The Hayman Fire burned over 137,000 acres in 2002. (credit: CBS)

Terry Barton, a U.S. Forest Service employee, admitted she started the Hayman Fire, which broke out on June 9, 2002, and grew to nearly 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes and burned across four different counties before firefighters finally got a handle on it. Barton served time in jail.

PHOTO GALLERY: Hayman Fire

Wyoming Hotshots battle the Pine Gulch Fire on Aug. 11, 2020 (credit: Kyle Miller)

One residence and four minor structures have been lost in the Pine Gulch Fire. It is 77% contained as of Thursday evening.

Ben Warwick

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