Fire Season Starts Early in Colorado

B. McPherson

Two people are confirmed dead and another is missing as firefighters from Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Utah battle a 4 500 acre fire near Denver. The fire believed to have started from a controlled burn has destroyed 28 dwellings and forced evacuation of 900 more.

According to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire season in Colorado is normally May to September. Controlled burns are conducted to deny a forest fire fuel.

“Annually, the BLM completes about 15,000 acres of fuels reduction projects in the state. Colorado focuses its fuels reduction efforts on areas near communities known as the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).”  BLM
While many might jump to the conclusion that this early start to the fire season is a result of climate change, it may not be. It may be the end of a La Nina weather pattern that caused the mild, dry winter. The National Interagency Fire Centre in Boise Idaho keeps year to year statistics on wildfires throughout the US. Currently they note that there are three large uncontained fires in the US south east besides the Colorado fire. To date this year 165 572 acres have been burned over. Last year saw devastating fires in many areas of the US with 588 237 acres destroyed. 2006 was the worst year in the past ten with 1 792 721 acres up in flames.

Wildfires are an ongoing worry for those who choose to live in forested areas or areas prone to brush fires, but small towns and suburbs of cities are not immune if there is sufficient fuel for the fires. Last year the small town of Slave Lake in Alberta was devastated when grass fires overwhelmed the town’s fire fighting capabilities. With a wind behind it, these large fires travel quickly. 

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