Colorado firefighters battle the state's largest wildfires in history

Two largest wildfires in Colorado history could merge
Two largest wildfires in Colorado history cou... 02:09

Colorado's governor said the historic wildfire burning this morning in Rocky Mountain National Park was most likely caused by human activity. Making matters worse: the East Troublesome Fire is not the biggest fire burning in the state right now, and there remains the possibility it could merge with the nearby Cameron Peak Fire.

More than 700 firefighters are now battling the East Troublesome Fire in northern Colorado and additional help is on the way. The fire has already burned over 188,000 acres, an area larger than the city of Chicago. Firefighters only have 4% of it contained, according to the fire information website InciWeb

Meanwhile, the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest blaze in the state, has burned more than 206,000 acres and is 60% contained.

Governor Jared Polis has activated the state's National Guard and on Friday, met with evacuees and first responders, who have also been victimized by the wildfires. 

"Can you describe what it looks like?" CBS News asked Christopher Joyner, a spokesperson for the East Troublesome Fire. 

"I've been in and around wildfire for almost 10 years and I've never seen anything like what we experienced two nights ago where we had 100,000 acres of growth in the matter of a night," said Joyner.

The streets in downtown Estes Park are nearly empty, save for fire crews heading in and out of the fight. The resort town at the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park is evacuated.

East Troublesome Fire
Smoke fills the sky as the East Troublesome Fire burns outside Granby, Colorado, on October 22, 2020. Jim Urquhart / REUTERS

Ed Gruff stayed behind and turned his candy shop, Sugar Shack, into a place for fire crews to take a break and get a bite. "Everybody else evacuated. That's not what I do, I make food for people."

But outside town, some were turned away, trying to find out if their homes are still intact. Don Lesher is certain his cabin in Grand Lake is destroyed. He and his wife got out on Wednesday.

"When we got to Granby, the only thing I wanted to do was pull over and catch my breath so we spent the night in the City Market parking lot," Lesher said. "It's home, it's home, it's, it's everything it's our whole life."

There's another red flag warning for Saturday. Dry and windy conditions will be tough but there is snow in the forecast, which could help get this fire under control.

Justin Carissimo contributed reporting. 

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    Omar Villafranca is a CBS News correspondent based in Dallas.