JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – Just because it’s winter and a lot of snow is on the ground in Colorado, doesn’t mean it’s not fire season.
Grass fires sparked in Larimer and Adams counties and burned more than 15 acres Friday. Last weekend, another grass fire in Larimer County burned 11 acres.
“It actually doesn’t surprise me,” said West Metro Fire Rescue Capt. Brendan Finnegan, who’s also the department’s wildland fire coordinator. “Colorado…we’re proving time and time again that we really don’t have a designated fire season anymore.”
Finnegan said some grasses can dry out and be ready to burn in just about an hour. Then, wind will fuel the flames and burn around any snow that’s still on the ground.
“It always raises a little hair on the back of your neck that fire season is extended to 12 months now,” Finnegan said.
“Especially in the Mountain West like in Colorado, the snowpack is lasting a shorter period of time,” said University of Colorado Integrative Biologist Dr. Brian Buma, who studies wildfires. “So essentially, our burn window in the summer has gone up quite a bit.”
In 2019, Colorado had a near-record snowpack in March. It was more than 140 percent of average. By July, dry conditions returned to the state. And in November, more than 60 percent of Colorado was in a drought.
Despite all the snow during the 2018-2019 winter, more than 40,000 acres burned in Colorado last year.