NewsCovering Colorado

Actions

Rapid rise in temps could portend long, drawn out wildland fire season in Colorado

Residents urged to have emergency plan in place
High Fire Danger
Posted at 7:42 AM, Jun 14, 2021

DENVER — Fire danger is high in some places in Colorado, and about to get higher.

Abundant rain in parts of the state this spring has led to abundant grass. While that grass is very green now, it's expected to start drying out as temperatures climb toward triple digits on the Front Range, and into the 80s in the mountains.

It's worse in the western part of the state, where drought has a tight grip on things, but even places like Jefferson County are in danger.

"With these hot and dry temperatures, we're going to be expecting that grass to dry really, really fast," said Ashley Farinacci, Platte River Fire public information officer. "With one loose spark, one dragging chain, one abandoned campfire, that grass is available, and the fire is going to zip right through it."

In the Denver metro area, the concern is fireworks.

By the time July fourth rolls around, the abundant grass along the Front Range should be drying out.

David Boyd, public affairs officer for the White River National Forest, said fireworks are never allowed on National Forest Service lands, "but a concern with the Fourth of July is just the number of people that are out, and with potential (camp) fires and different activities."

Boyd said people recreating in the high country need to make sure that campfires are extinguished.

He said don't park on the grass and make sure chains aren't dragging if you're towing a trailer or camper.

"If you're using a chain saw or weed wacker, make sure they're functioning properly with spark arrestors," he said.

And plan ahead.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office suggests registering cell phones for CodeRED emergency notifications.

Jenny Fulton, sheriff's office public information officer, said this is the time to mitigate fuels around your home and to have an emergency plan in place so you know what to do, and what to take, in the event of an evacuation order.

"Practice your evacuation route," she said. "Because sometimes, depending on which roads are being closed, you may not be able to take the route you had planned to."

Farinacci said crews lucked out on the Platte River Fire because it moved into rocky, scraggly terrain.

She said it makes it harder for fire crews to access, but there is less fuel to burn.

She also reminds people who plan to recreate in the high country to be aware of any fire restrictions.