MORRISON, Colo. (KDVR) — As high temperatures are predicted to stay near 100 degrees over the next week, fire officials are getting ready for increased wildfire risk.
Following one of the worst fire years in Colorado, many were hoping the wet spring this year would prevent a repeat.
“It is a very big misconception honestly. You look at the Front Range in particular, and the east side of the divide definitely got more of the moisture and the late season, late spring moistures, but as we saw yesterday, a day or two of good hot temperatures and lower [relative humidity] and we’re off to the races,” West Metro Fire Wildland Coordinator Captain Brendan Finnegan said.
According to Finnegan, the wet spring caused grasses and other vegetation to grow taller than usual. Without consistent rain, he says, those plants can dry out quickly in 90-degree weather.
“[With] just that one-day change, we saw the Platte River Fire start, we’ve seen the Straight Creek Fire start,” he said.
Both fires started on Thursday and are still burning. Fire officials fear they could be a preview of the week to come.
“Just with the increase in temperatures this week and then the predicted temperatures coming, we’ve seen significant changes in our fire danger and fire behavior,” Finnegan said.
On Friday, fire danger dials in the West Metro Fire district showed the danger to be either moderate or high. The risk can change daily depending on conditions.
“Coming to work yesterday, we were all in the mindset of, ‘Today could be a more risky day for fire’ and sure enough, you saw two decent fires start,” he said.
He says fire crews locally and statewide are already preparing for a busy week ahead.
“We’ve moved some of those air tankers into the front range here ready for the whole Rocky Mountain region,” Finnegan said.
Fire officials are asking Coloradans and visitors to be fire aware and exercise extreme caution over the next several days.