DENVER (KDVR) — With several fires burning across Colorado, fire crews continue to push fire weather awareness. They’re encouraging homeowners in any part of the state to be prepared to evaluate when necessary.

Low humidity, high winds and dry fuels are some of the criteria for a red flag warning, but crews are hoping to inform everyone that fires can spark at any time of year.

If you feel like it’s been extra windy lately, you’re not wrong. Even Denver Fire crews are taking notice.   

“The winds we’ve been experiencing as of late, they are unique,” said Greg Pixley with Denver Fire. “They’re not uncommon — we get winds like this in the Colorado area quite frequently. But there does seem to have been a tremendous number of days that have had these types of significant winds.”

How fire crews prepare for red flag days

It’s a disastrous recipe for dangerous fires. On a day like this, Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s Vaughn Jones, chief of the Wildland Fire Management Section, said staff work overtime.

“If firefighters were scheduled to work till 5 o’clock that night on certain days, we’ll extend that a couple of hours just so that we have more resources ready to go,” Jones said, “and that’s both for our ground and our aviation resources.”

With another red flag day in the forecast, crews say to be on alert. However, fires can pop up at any time when the conditions are right.    

“There’s a whole set of, you know, variables and equations that go into [Red Flag Day designation], but it just elevates, adds on to whatever the conditions are,” Jones said. “Fire is a year-round thing now in Colorado. Whether you live in the grasslands or the desert or the high mountains, it’s going to affect every part of Colorado at some point in time.”  

Not only does the wind cause fires to spread quickly, but it also makes it harder and more dangerous for firefighters to attack them.  

“It’s almost somewhat like a convection oven, so the wind just multiplies forces — the heat from the fire adds more oxygen to the fire. Then the rate of spread gets more fuels involved at a time at a quicker rate. So it just kind of builds on itself and spreads much much quicker,” Jones said. “[In a case where] we simply can’t keep up with it, or know where it’s going and we have no probability of success, even if we tried, it wouldn’t do anything. We’re gonna back our folks off to a safe area — make sure everybody knows where to be safe, evacuate the public, and then we’ll either wait for the weather conditions to kind of subside or we’ll find a different part of the fire to go where we can safely engage in and take action.”

‘Work together’ to reduce fire danger

Denver Fire Crews said we can all do our part.   

“Even a home in downtown Denver has a chance of being affected by sparks and embers,” Pixley said. “We don’t want to lose our heirlooms, and we certainly don’t want our family and friends to become hurt. So it’s important for all of us to work together to reduce the dangers that are associated with wildfires and grass fires.”

Pixley said don’t hesitate to call 911, because if you wait to try and put the fire out or start gathering up items, you risk the fire getting worse before crews can arrive. 

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