Officials this week imposed new fire restrictions in parts of Colorado’s Front Range and West Slope amid growing concern about the potential for wildfires as temperatures rise.
Boulder County on Wednesday implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions for unincorporated areas in the western part of the county, as did Clear Creek County. Officials in western Colorado also took preventive measures this week to try to reduce the risk of fires, with Stage 1 restrictions in place in Ore., San Miguel and Montrose counties.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Gunnison and Uncompagre field offices also implemented Stage 1 restrictions.
Stage 1 fire restrictions generally prohibit the lighting of fireworks, any fire, smoking within a confined space, and the shooting of firearms unless hunting at a specified range or with a valid license.
Peter Goble, a climatologist and drought specialist at the Colorado Climate Center, said the frequency and severity of wildfires seen in recent years was not always a norm in Colorado.
“There has been a significant increase in certain fires, especially large fires, in the state in the last few decades,” he said. “A lot of it is due to drought. Climate change has heated things up. The hotter it is, the less abundant water builds up in soil and plants, resulting in drought. Drought only brings one area more vulnerable to fire, which we are seeing now and recently in the state. ,
Goble also said that June, July and early August are the biggest window for wildfires not only in Colorado, but across the country.
With temperatures in Metro Denver soon back into the 90s, the National Weather Service expects rain in the coming days, giving reason to hope, as potential weekend rain could help avoid burns.
“It looks dry today and tomorrow,” said Scott Antrekin, a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s Boulder office. “But on Friday afternoon we are expecting more moisture which will develop over Saturday and rest of the weekend. This is good news, as the added moisture is likely to reduce the risk of a fire. ,