COLORADO SPRINGS — Four major wildfires are burning across Colorado, and fire crews are battling dry conditions and unfavorable weather as well. And the conditions in place now are eerily similar to what we saw in 2012 and 2013, when the Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire broke out in El Paso County.
“It’s hot and dry, your body’s being stressed, you’re under the stress of fighting the fire,” said Lt. Trevor Leland with the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
Currently, the Grizzly Creek Fire burning in Glenwood Canyon, has prompted the indefinite shut-down of a portion of I-70. The Pine Gulch Fire is burning nearly 125,000 acres in Grand Junction, the Williams Fork Fire is burning more than 10,000 acres in Grand County, and the Cameron Peak Fire is burning more than 16,500 acres near Fort Collins.
“If it’s in a community or near homes it’s even more stressful, we are doing everything we can to protect those properties,” said Lt. Leland.
On Wednesday, Governor Jared Polis, noting three of the four current fires in the state were human-caused, enacted a 30-day fire ban.
“This statewide measure on fire bans will provide clarity of message,” said Polis.
According to FOX21 Meteorologist Emily Roehler, there may be further concern in the Pikes Peak region, where current conditions are reminiscent of particularly active, earlier years.
The latest drought monitor, updated Thursday, showed an increase in drought levels across southern Colorado, with 98% of the state at moderate drought or higher.
“The drought conditions and the heat we are seeing right now, it is really similar to what we saw in 2012 and 2013, and of course you think of the Waldo Canyon Fire and the year after that, the Black Forest Fire,” said Roehler.
An additional concern, is copious amounts of smoke in the air.
“When we have a lot of smoke particles in the air, they act as cloud condensation nuclei and that’s actually a small particle that water vapor clings to and that helps it to condense and form clouds, so we can see more cloud formation but that doesn’t necessarily mean more rain, it can produce those thunderstorms but again, a lot of them have been very dry,” said Roehler.
As crews focus on containment, they say they are hoping for a break from those storms.
“Because dry lightning is so unpredictable, we have to use our friends through the weather service and the state of Colorado to figure out where we have lightning, and if we had any positive strikes, hopefully we can detect those early,” said Lt. Leland.