Wildfires in the West: More than 4 million acres burned in California; Mullen Fire grows in Wyoming, Colorado; Oregon reaches new milestone in containment efforts

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on wildfire news in the West. Here is the latest for the week starting Oct. 5, 2020. Photo courtesy of Capital Public Radio.

Wildfires have consumed over 4 million acres in California this year, more than doubling the previous record set during the 2018 season.

As of Oct. 7, 16,500 firefighters in the Golden State are battling 22 major wildfires, which have led to at least 31 fatalities and the destruction of close to 9,000 structures, Capital Public Radio reports. The August Complex – now the largest fire in California history – has grown to reach 1.01 million acres and has claimed the life of one firefighter and injured another. It is at 60% containment.

The Glass Fire, burning for just under two weeks in Napa and Sonoma Counties, has expanded to 67,420 acres, destroying 1,517 structures, 636 of which were homes. It is at 62% containment. The Zogg Fire, ignited on the same day in Shasta County, has reached 56,338 acres, killing at least four people and injuring two inmate firefighters. It is at 88% containment.

Other noteworthy incidents include the Creek Fire (328,603 acres, 49% contained); North Complex (318,929 acres, 88% contained); LNU Lightning Complex (363,220 acres, 100% contained); SCU Lightning Complex (396,624 acres, 100% contained), and the Bobcat Fire (115,769 acres, 89% contained).

The Mullen Fire in Wyoming continues to expand as well, after igniting nearly three weeks ago in the Medicine Bow National Forest, according to The Casper Star-Tribune. The blaze, which is 170,996 acres and just 14% contained as of Oct. 8, has crossed the border into Colorado, prompting mandatory evacuation notices for parts of Jackson and Larimer Counties.

To date, the Mullen Fire has destroyed 29 homes, 31 outbuildings, and one firefighter has been injured. Officials predict strong winds and warm temperatures heading into the weekend; however, a cold front is forecast for Saturday evening, bringing with it moisture and even snow at higher elevations.

Elsewhere in Colorado, the Cameron Peak Fire that began in mid-August, and is now the third largest in state history, reached 128,149 acres as of Oct. 6, Fox 21 News reports. More than 1,000 firefighters are working on the blaze, now at 42% containment.

Other active incidents in the Centennial State include the Middle Fork Fire (10,054 acres, 0% contained), Williams Fork Fire (13,851 acres, 25% contained), and the Grizzly Creek Fire (32,431 acres, 91% contained).

In response to continued fire activity, Gov. Jared Polis on Wednesday (Oct. 7) extended his statewide fire ban on campfires and other open burning for another 30 days, according to The Durango Herald.

In Oregon, nearly every active incident has reached at least 50% containment, The Oregonian reports, with the exception of the 204,435-acre, 46%-contained Lionshead Fire. Additionally, as of Oct. 7, three fires have been at least 90% contained, and only three others experienced growth overnight.

Other fires in the state include the Riverside Fire (138,004 acres, 57% contained); Beachie Creek Fire (193,453 acres, 62% contained); Slater Fire (155,287 acres, 67% contained); Thielsen Fire (9,975 acres, 70% contained); Holiday Farm Fire (173,094 acres, 80% contained); White River Fire (17,383 acres, 89% contained); Archie Creek Fire (131,542 acres, 94% contained); Two Four Two Fire (14,473 acres, 97% contained), and the Brattain Fire (50,951 acres, 98% contained).

In Arizona, closures prompted by the Sears Fire, burning through 14,476 acres northeast of Phoenix, have been modified as fire crews continue to make progress. According to KTAR News, management of the fire – now 60% contained – has been transferred back to the Cave Creek Ranger station.

Montana is dealing with a few small blazes, including the 1,800-acre Burley Fire 11 miles west of Broadus in Powder River County, Montana Public Radio reports. Some 15 structures are being threatened, but none destroyed as of the morning of Oct. 8.

Also of concern is the Yogo Fire, estimated to be burning approximately 3,000 acres in the Little Belt Mountains. Officials have dispatched air tankers, helicopters, engines, and crews from federal, state and local resources to help prevent the incident from spreading further.

Click here for the latest wildfire updates in your state.

Learn more about WGA’s policy work to prevent and combat wildfire in the West.

ICYMI: COVID-19 in the West: A state-by-state breakdown of the Governors’ work (updated regularly)

Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

sign up for our newsletters