2021 brings wildfire relief to Colorado — so far

Local News

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s wildfire season has remained relatively quiet compared to 2020 thanks to more moisture and fewer wind events, according to experts.

The three largest wildfires in state history happened in 2020, and nine of the top 20 largest wildfires happened in the last three years.

“What really catalyzed the big fires or the big spread days we had last year were the big wind events. We haven’t really had as windy of a fall this year,” said Camille Stevens-Rumann, assistant professor at Colorado State University.

Stevens-Rumann is a fire ecology faculty member, focused on studying how wildfires burn and how ecosystems recover after a fire. She said just a little more moisture in a given year can dramatically reduce the wildfire risk.

The latest data from the U.S. Drought Monitor show 13.63% of the state is under extreme drought, compared to 77.72% one year ago.

As of Oct. 19, just 1.95% of Colorado was experiencing exceptional drought, compared to 21.82% of the state last year.

Stevens-Rumann said having a calmer year for wildfires gives Colorado a chance to focus on fire prevention and mitigation efforts.

“It gives us more of an opportunity to treat those landscapes that we need to, to make sure we don’t have that next fire. I think that’s the window that’s closing that we really need to focus on is how do we prevent that next bad fire year that we’re inevitably going to have,” Stevens-Rumann said.

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