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Fire danger trending high again during September heat wave

Posted at 10:40 PM, Sep 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 00:59:34-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – The date on the calendar doesn’t quite explain the heat wave sweeping across southern Colorado, but the temperatures and lack of moisture are creating summer-like fire conditions around the region.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department has again classified the fire danger as high in the city, even with summer almost officially over.

“Now, we’re in a situation where we’re not getting the moisture. The fuels have grown. They’re above ground, and with fall approaching in just a couple days, they’re starting to dry out,” said Capt. Brian Vaughan, public information officer for the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department has again classified the city's fire danger as 'high' on Sept. 19, 2018.

Our potential for another large fire is growing, but Vaughan said the situation now isn’t as bad as it was in summer.

Shorter days, less sun exposure and the increase in relative humidity overnight are making it harder for fuels to be primed for ignition.

“The obvious thing is nights are getting longer, so we have cooler periods of time, less time for the ground and fuels to pre-heat. So, each morning they’re having to start over,” Vaughan said.

But if the weather continues to be hot and dry, the return of restrictions might not be far away.

Peggy Anderson knows the reality of wildfires well. Her Mountain Shadows home is just down the road from the Waldo Canyon burn scar.

“We didn’t really think it would happen. We were one of the first people evacuated and was actually a little bit annoyed for a couple days, because we couldn’t come home, and we were like.. The fire seemed far away,” Anderson said.

But it was just over the ridge from her home.

The Mountain Shadows neighborhood was pummeled by the Waldo Canyon Fire, flattening homes left and right.

“You know, you can still remember that panicky feeling and that stressful feeling,” Anderson said. “I think the hardest part was coming into the neighborhood after the fire, and it just looked like a war zone.”

Vaughan said the Colorado Springs Fire Department, at this time, doesn’t anticipate reinstating burn restrictions for the city.

But like the weather, he said that could change from day-to-day. Meanwhile, Anderson warns anyone dealing with open flames to be careful, as the hot and dry weather conditions continue.

“Definitely pay attention to warnings or bans, and just follow the rules,” Anderson said. “There’s a reason that they’re there.”