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3 of the largest wildfires in Colorado history have occurred in 2020

Experts say climate change and a buildup of dead and parched wildland vegetation have contributed to this year's fires in the West.

Colorado has seen three of its largest wildfires in state history occur this year, two of which are still growing.

The largest wildfire currently burning in the state is the Cameron Peak Fire, which has scorched more than 206,000 acres, according to the fire-reporting site InciWeb. As of Friday morning, it was 57 percent contained.

The blaze erupted on Aug. 13 and flared up recently due to warm and dry weather, prompting evacuation warnings for several areas. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Firefighters in the state have also been responding to the East Troublesome Fire, which has grown to more than 170,000 acres, now the second-largest in Colorado. It was only 5 percent contained as of Friday morning.

Smoke fills the sky as the East Troublesome Fire burns outside Granby, Colo., on Oct. 22, 2020.Jim Urquhart / Reuters

On Thursday, Rocky Mountain National Park was closed to visitors after the East Troublesome fire jumped the Continental Divide and burned into the west side of the park.

The blaze led to mandatory evacuations Thursday in parts of Estes Park, a town of 6,000 in the Rocky Mountains. Residents in the small town of Grand Lake were ordered to leave Wednesday as the fire continued to burn.

There are some concerns that the two fires could merge into one, but East Troublesome Fire incident commander Noel Livingston said he does not see that happening right now.

"But it is a potential,” he said during a briefing Thursday, according to the Coloradoan. “And certainly this year has been one of those years where those low potential events seem to be happening with high frequency. A fire this size moving this far in October is a very low potential event in terms of what we expect and this occurred. So, I don’t want to say it can’t happen. But right now, it doesn’t appear that it’s going to.”

The Pine Gulch fire, which was previously the largest wildfire in the state before being overtaken in size by the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires, is the only major fire this year to be 100 percent contained. The blaze burned just over 139,000 acres before full containment on Sept. 24. The fire started on July 31.

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California is also experiencing an unprecedented wildfire season, with more than 4 million acres burned this year. The state is currently battling 19 wildfires, 12 of which remain major incidents, according to a Thursday update by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Parts of Northern California remain under red flag warnings.

Over 450,000 acres are currently burning in Colorado, according to the Coloradoan. Experts have said that climate change and a buildup of dead and parched wildland vegetation have contributed to this year's fires in the West.