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Colorado Edition: Where There's Smoke

Cameron Peak Fire
inciweb.nwcg.gov
Aerial view of flames and smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire on Aug. 21, 2020.

Today on Colorado Edition: With the Cameron Peak Fire taking the spot this week for Colorado’s largest wildfire, we get some context about this historic fire season and how climate change fits in. We’ll also examine the role of guns at recent protests around the state. Plus, we get the policy takeaways from Colorado’s recent senate debates and we explore the question of a paid family and medical leave program.

How Climate Change Impacts Wildfires In Colorado

On Wednesday, the Cameron Peak Fire burning in Larimer County became the largest wildfire in state history, overtaking the Pine Gulch Fire, which took the top spot back in September.

As of Thursday afternoon, authorities say the Cameron Peak Fire has grown to over 164,000 acres. They also say that they are expecting a lot of wind in the coming days, which could make matters worse. To get some context about this historic fire season and to learn how climate change is impacting the severity of the fires, we spoke with Jennifer Balch, a fire scientist and the director of EarthLab at the University of Colorado Boulder.

You can find the latest information on the Cameron Peak Fire here.

The Role Of Guns At Protests

Last weekend in Denver, protesters gathered downtown on a sunny afternoon. On one side, the right-wing “Patriot Muster” rally. And on the other side, a group of left-wing counter-protesters holding a canned soup drive. Barricades separated the groups. So did a long line of police in riot gear, facing the counter-protesters. As the competing events wound down, two people got into a confrontation. One was shot and killed. The shooting suspect is a security guard who has been hired by a local TV news station. This altercation has raised questions about the presence of guns at protests.

KUNC’s Leigh Paterson has been examining the role of guns at protests with local experts and joined us to discuss what she found.

Takeaways From Colorado’s U.S. Senate Debates

The debates are over and it’s now up to Colorado voters to decide who they want to represent them in the U.S. Senate. The incumbent, Republican Cory Gardener, or the former governor and Democrat John Hickenlooper. The coronavirus has limited campaigning in this race, so KUNC’s Scott Franz went through the debates to see where the candidates stand on key issues, including health care and the Supreme Court.

Proposition 118

This November, Colorado voters will be asked to weigh in on the matter of a statewide paid family leave policy. On this year’s ballot, that question is called Proposition 118. We recently had an in-depth conversation about the ballot measure with KUNC’s Scott Franz, and Jennifer Greenfield, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver.

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