COLORADO SPRINGS — With more than 250 fires already this year in the Rocky Mountain region, the U.S. Forest Service said activity is up in Colorado.

Jacque Buchanan, Deputy Regional Forester with the Forest Service has been with the agency for 30 years with the last 10 years in Colorado. She said that during the past few years she’s seen more changes with fire activity.

“We have seen a lot of change even in the time period for which I’ve been in. It’s a lot of factors that have played into it. Climate change and I actually speak to climate variability…Things have changed and things have got more serious,” Buchanan said.

It’s the one extreme to another with more warm and dry days in between, that’s helped boost fire season into a fire year within the state.

“The variability we are seeing in the hot and dry to wet and cold and not knowing what’s going to come day to day or throughout the year,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said fire behavior has also changed too. With fires moving faster and burning hotter because of climate change.

“I would never have expected that we would have that level of activity for what we saw in 2020 and you know we were burning into November,” Buchanan said.

Another factor? People. As the population within Colorado continues to boom, many are moving to wildland urban interface areas which are fire-prone.

“Of course people want to live in those gorgeous areas, those areas that are right adjacent to those wildlands. Urban wildland interface has really upped the game in regard to having a greater responsibility to protect more, to protect more lives, protect more infrastructure in regard to private homes, private property,” Buchanan said.

Since the pandemic, Buchanan said the number of people enjoying the outdoors has increased too. Making the risk for fires greater.

“The amount of folks out on the landscape has probably doubled in the last two years. And that’s a great thing because that’s the American public enjoying these lands. It is a bad thing. Because, you know, more people on the landscape up the risk for things to happen,” Buchanan said.

They hope continued partnerships and the state’s added airtanker base in Colorado Springs will help with future fires, but the year is still unpredictable.

“We don’t know what the year’s going to bring and I say year because we’re really kind of avoiding that season thing because, you know, in the 12 months there is a fire and there’s fire activity going on somewhere,” Buchanan said.