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Extreme climate conditions, drought set the stage for winter wildfires

Colorado Wildfires
David Zalubowski/AP
Broomfield Police direct motorists during an evacuation as a wildfire burns near a shopping center Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021, near Broomfield, Colorado.

The Marshall Fire that erupted in Boulder County on Thursday, Dec. 30 quickly became the most destructive in state history. The fire consumed more than 6,000 acres, and forced more than 30,000 people to flee their homes. Officials estimate nearly 1,000 structures have been destroyed.

It was a rare occurrence for December in Colorado, but many experts say similar events will become more common, fueled by extreme climate conditions. We talked with Russ Schumacher, Colorado’s state climatologist and director of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, about how those conditions set the stage for fire.

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