Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season one of worst on record: 431k acres burned, 450 homes affected |

Colorado’s 2018 wildfire season one of worst on record: 431k acres burned, 450 homes affected

Air crews work on the Lake Christine Fire, which by Wednesday afternoon was at more than 2,300 acres.
Anna Stonehouse / The Aspen Times

Halfway through the summer, at least 1,585 wildfires have torched more than 431,600 acres of Colorado forest and grasslands and destroyed or damaged about 450 homes, making 2018 one of the most destructive fire seasons in history — and it isn’t over yet.

The only larger wildfire season in Colorado in terms of acres burned was in 2002, when 926,502 acres were destroyed, according to statistics kept by the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center in Lakewood.

“It’s a pretty intense year,” RMCC spokesman Larry Helmerick said. “The acres consumed is real high this year, almost as much as a whole year for a lot of years … and it’s not over by a long shot.”

Helmerick said that relatively speaking, 2018 hasn’t had as many wildfires as some past years in Colorado. For example, there were 4,600 wildfires in Colorado in 2002.

What separates 2018 from past years has been the size of the wildfires, Helmerick said.

Traditionally, most wildfires are very small — less than an acre — and are extinguished before they become the behemoths that require coordinated fire suppression from local, state and federal agencies. But five of the 20 largest wildfires in Colorado history have been recorded in 2018. Experts blame extreme drought conditions similar to those in 2002.

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