Colorado November 17, 2016
Wildfire Warnings Are Spreading Throughout Colorado And It’s Truly Concerning
It’s an unfortunate truth that Colorado is a state all too familiar with wildfires. Recently, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for parts of Colorado. No matter the scale, these fires have a direct effect on both the land and its people. With North Carolina and other states in the East Coast experiencing their
most devastating wildfires to date, it’s an important time to reflect on the importance of fire safety and regulation.
Wildfires continue to threaten portions of the state. According to the USDA Forest Service, there are red flag warnings in southwestern Colorado, highlighted in red on the map above. It’s crucial to stay up to date with these warnings, and all fire bans. Even a small campfire can be potentially devastating. As we all know, all it takes is dry conditions and the smallest spark.
Wildfires, whether started by accident or in hopes of clearing out unwanted brush, have an effect on the land and create a visual that’s become all too familiar for residents of Colorado. Recent evacuations and poor air quality have been real concerns this fall.
As always, we are enormously grateful to the firefighters and trained officials who respond bravely to these events. To the best of their ability, they contain the flames as to cause the least amount of damage.
Since the 1900s, these fires have been recorded in terms of their magnitude and devastation. One of the earliest and most significant fires in U.S. recorded history occurred in 1910 and affected Washington, Idaho and Montana. This wildfire of catastrophic proportions, later nicknamed the Big Blowup, burned three million acres of land in the Northern Rocky Mountains and killed 78 firefighters. Photographed above is the hurricane-like aftermath of this event.
It's events such as these that place emphasis on the importance of adhering to fire bans. While Colorado was not directly effected by the Big Blowup, this provoked a state-wide policy that all fires be put out by 10 AM. This rule would be modified in the upcoming century.
In 1955, the Colorado State Forest Service was established by the General Assembly to oversee that responses to wildfires were prompt, safe and efficient. This organization was heavily relied on in 2002, when Colorado experienced its largest wildfire to date. The Hayman Fire, whose effects are seen in the photograph above, was considered a Federal emergency.
In some areas, the Hayman Fire burned at such high temperatures that all ground cover was reduced to its layer of soil. Originating 95 miles southwest of Denver, this forest fire burned over 138,000 acres and caused the evacuation of 5,300 people. The Governor at the time, Bill Owens, made the famous and cryptic statement after taking an aerial tour of the site: “It looks as if all of Colorado is burning today.”
Many Coloradans also recall the series of wildfires that broke out in 2013 in Wolf Creek Pass. Burning over 100,000 acres, this was considered to be the second most damaging wildfire in the state’s history and was caused by lighting.
We’re keeping a close eye on these current wildfires; hopefully they won’t cause more damage and evacuations.
What are your experiences with these wildfires in Colorado? Feel free to share in the comments below.