Reports from Colorado confirm that the Black Forest fire has so far burned 15,700 acres; 38,000 people and 13,000 homes evacuated; with the fire only 5% contained. 379 homes have been destroyed and a further 9 damaged. The damage exceeds the record destruction last year from the Waldo Canyon Fire which destroyed nearly 350 homes and also killed two people. Another Colorado wildfire near Royal Gorge has burnt 3,100 acres, destrying 20 structures and is just 20% contained.
Over the border in New Mexico the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire continues to burn in the Gila National Forest. It is the largest wildfire in New Mexico's recorded history. Started by a lightning strike on May 15th 2013, the fire has burned almost 280,000 acres and is assessed as only 37% contained one month later in mid June. High temperatures, low humidity and moderate winds continue to feed the fire. Fire fighters are focussed on containing the southern boundary of the fire. Costs of fighting this blaze have now exceeded $22 million.
Climate change is driving the increased destruction of wildfires with US Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell warning of more extreme wild fires in testimony to the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week.
In 2012 wildfires burned a record 9.2 million acres in the U.S., with this year also likely to set exceptional fire records.