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Amid Wildfire Risk, More Colorado Counties to Adopt Fire Bans

Severe drought hitting much of Colorado’s mountains is prompting many local officials to consider implementing fire bans; a move that follows similar restrictions already in place along the tinder dry Front Range. 

At a meeting later this morning, Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs says his county will consider an ordinance implementing rare “Stage 1” fire restrictions; essentially a ban on any fires on unincorporated county land.

"It’s just been extremely dry up here in the high country," Gibbs said from his office in Frisco. "We’ve had a little precipitation recently but it really doesn’t cut it."

Summit County is of particular risk for so-called catastrophic wildfires - blazes that destroy life and property - because almost half of all of the pine trees in the county are dead due to drought and the bark beetle epidemic.

Couple that with a record low snowpackand things are looking as bad - or worse - as they did this time in 2002, a significance not lost on Gibbs:  "When of course we had the Hayman Fire that burned over 138,000 acres, so we are anxious and definitely worried up in the high country, it’s a difficult situation right now."

Tomorrow marks the ten year anniversary of the day the Hayman Fire ignited southwest of Denver. It was the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado history and second most destructive, next to the Four Mile Canyon fire in Boulder

Drought conditions this year are similar to 2002.  This year, however, the western slope and particularly northwest Colorado are experiencing some of the worst conditions, according to this map provided by the US Drought Monitor.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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