Concern about fire danger high across Colorado
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Snowfall Monday helped break a long stretch of dry weather in eastern Colorado, but the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies remain concerned about the risk of wildfires.
The fire conditions are extreme and fire activity is erratic on the east side of the Rockies, including the Denver area, said Rick Cables, head of the regional Forest Service office in Denver. He pointed to recent wildfires that temporarily forced thousands of people out of their homes.
“The recent wildfire activity along the Front Range of Colorado is a wake-up call to what has the potential to be a tough fire season,” Cables said.
A fire west of Golden and another southeast of Denver that were contained late last week were fueled by tinder-dry vegetation and strong winds. Authorities say the fires were human-caused.
The area at greatest risk for fires Monday was the Interstate 25 corridor south of Pueblo County and the lower elevations of the Sangre de Cristo and Wet Mountains, the National Weather Service said.
March is typically one of the wettest months in Colorado, but the area east of the Rockies has been way below average, raising the fire danger. The small amount of snow and rain in the Denver area Monday won’t be enough to eliminate fire bans, fire officials said.
“We’re going to need some significant moisture to lift this ban,” said Boulder County sheriff’s Cmdr. Rick Brough.
Boulder County has prohibited outside fires because of the dry conditions. The area typically averages 17.7 inches of snow in March, but has received only 0.2 inches for far this month, Matt Kelsch, a meteorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research told the Daily Camera.
About 200 homes were evacuated when a blaze broke out in the foothills west of Boulder in early March.
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In Eagle County, Vail and Beaver Creek resorts Senior Communications Manager John Plack said the company agrees with the state’s assessment that the ski industry must be out-front in its approach to ensure a safe and successful season in Colorado.