LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — The hot, dry weather is increasing the risk of wildfire along the Front Range. 

Despite a scorching summer, Colorado experienced mild fire activity during the hottest months of the year. 

“We’ve really benefitted from having a consistently moist summer, which has kept the number of vegetation fires we’ve had down,” West Metro Fire Rescue firefighter paramedic Jonathan Ashford said. 

Not only were there fewer fires than usual in the summer of 2022, but Ashford said they were smaller too. 

“Having that green up that’s been consistent through the summer has allowed us to really keep fires that do start small,” he said. 

However, the relatively calm summer could indicate a more difficult fall and winter for fire activity. 

“The challenge that comes with that on the other side is that increase in moisture also allows vegetation to continue growing,” Ashford said.

Fire crews take wildfire precautions on each call

The larger-than-usual vegetation is now drying out under the September sun, which has broken multiple heat records this week. 

“What it really means is that with the current weather conditions the lighter fuels, the grasses and small vegetation are becoming more susceptible to burning, which gives us a higher likelihood of having a large incident once a fire gets started,” Ashford said.

West Metro is now sending its brush truck along on every call in case a wildfire starts spreading. 

“They can go into places that the big engines can’t. The large engines that we use for structural responses need to stay on pavement, some sort of structural ground. Our smaller brush trucks are able to go into smaller grassy areas, up trails or bike paths without damaging the area and without getting stuck,” Ashford said.

He said those areas will remain a concern for fire crews even after the weekend cool down. 

“The changing temperatures is helpful but what we really need is moisture. That vegetation that’s drying out today, tomorrow and has been for the last week or so will still be dry. It’ll still be susceptible to carrying fire,” Ashford said.