Apr 22, 2022 - News

Colorado's wildfire season takes off with windy forecast

Smoke blankets Glenwood Canyon and Interstate 70 in August 2020. Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

Roughly a dozen wildfires have erupted across Colorado in the last eight days, destroying homes, forcing evacuations and signaling a vicious start to what's considered traditional fire season.

Why it matters: The early-season flames underscore the unfolding reality that Coloradans need to prepare for wildfire danger year-round, stoking residents' fears following the devastating Marshall Fire in Boulder County and the East Troublesome blaze in Grand County.

Driving the news: Today's incoming storm will bring especially volatile weather along the Front Range and across the Eastern Plains. The National Weather Service has issued a rare "extreme fire" weather warning.

  • Meanwhile, 87% of Colorado is experiencing moderate to "exceptional" drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor — and this month is on track to be Denver's driest since 1963.

Of note: Only three days in April were without red flag warnings in Colorado, NWS meteorologist Jim Kalina tells Axios Denver.

What they're saying: The state's wildfire risks are being fueled by warm temperatures, low humidity and high-powered winds, Kalina says.

  • These dangerous conditions are expected to continue if significant rainfall doesn't arrive soon.

Catch up quick: Since April 14, blazes have broken out from Boulder County, Glenwood Springs and Larimer County to Fort Carson and Monte Vista.

  • Most evacuation orders have been lifted and the fires are at least partially contained.

The big picture: Human-caused climate change is fueling an uptick in wildfire risks and relief is unlikely to come anytime soon.

Be smart via Axios' Andrew Freedman: While most wildfires are human-caused or due to lightning strikes, climate change is setting the stage for more severe and difficult-to-control blazes.

  • Do your part by avoiding activities this weekend that could create sparks or flames, including campfires, charcoal grills, welding outside and tossing out cigarettes.
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