Governor says state is prepared for Colorado wildfire season

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DENVER — Wildfire season is getting an early start in Colorado with an average or below-average risk predicted for the season.

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday the state is prepared, but preparedness by individuals along with personal responsibility will be key to controlling that risk.

“It is an essential ingredient of preparing and planning so it allows us to include defensible space, safe building materials landscaping,” Hickenlooper said.

Recent numbers show only 7 percent of wildfires were caused by naturally occurring factors such as lightning.

The state is enhancing training, using new technology and public information campaigns to bolster the fight against wildfire danger.

The state is also using multimission aircraft, working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor conditions and improve predictions, and finding ways to provide firefighters with real-time information on the ground.

Fifteen years ago, Colorado saw about 1,000 fires on average per season compared to 4,000 fires on average in recent years. Hickenlooper said one reason is climate change.

“The fire season now stretches out 80 days longer than it used to, say a decade-and-a-half ago, so it’s no wonder we’re having more fires,” he said.

The risk of wildfire is lowest on the Western Slope because of a good snowpack and about average for the eastern part of the state.

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