Colorado Braced for Extended Fire Season
Following Thursday’s annual wildfire briefing, Governor John Hickenlooper says the state needs to be prepared for an extended season of wildfire danger.
Crews in Colorado have been battling fires since January because of high winds and extended periods of below-average humidity. And that’s concerning state and federal fire officials, who say they’re worried about the early start to the season.
“So far this year we’ve had 64 fires in the months of March and April. Normally in March we average 3 fires,” says Steve Segin with the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center, which manages wildland fire resources for a five-state region including Colorado. He notes that the lack of moisture has been a pattern since last August, and is reminiscent of other active fire seasons.
“Conditions here on the ground east of the continental divide, below 8,000 feet are drier than they were in 2002. And a lot of folks remember we had a lot of fire activity, specifically the Hayman Fire, in 2002.”
Segin says the difference this year is that the drought is not statewide, as it was then. Still, above-normal temperatures and drier than average conditions are expected to persist through June. That means greater potential for large fires - especially for the southern and eastern part of the state through early summer, until the rainy season begins.