For more than two decades, the Western half of the U.S. has been battling a record-breaking megadrought. As a result, the annual wildfire season has become all the more intense. However, the last few years have proven just how dire the situation has become. Now, Colorado officials have now declared fire season in the state “year-round.”
According to The Hill, a fire that broke out in Boulder, CO over the weekend was partially contained by Monday. And while the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention & Control reports fire season historically spanned four months at the height of the summer season, the current “core” wildfire season is, on average, 78 days longer than it was decades ago. As a result, fire season has begun to span more than half the year in CO. The division reports large wildfires take place every month of the year now.
Amid the latest wildfire, incident commander Brian Oliver said during a press conference, “There’s no longer a fire season. Fire season’s year-round now.”
As for Boulder County, where the current blaze burns, wind and a lack of moisture heighten the threats posed by spring wildfires.
Each spring, the outlet reports that areas of CO, as well as various other regions, experience a “green-up” phase. During this time, dormant grasses and vegetation absorb the water from the previous months’ snow and other precipitation. Now though, so early in the spring, that vegetation hasn’t had time to absorb that moisture and grow. The result? A greater likelihood of rapidly spreading wildfires.
Fire crews faced threats of increased spread on Monday as winds in the area picked up, with the blaze less than half contained.
NCAR Fire Forces Evacuation of Boulder, Colorado Residents
Amid his statement regarding “year-round” fire season, Oliver took time to update the press about the state of current fire fighting efforts. The NCAR fire, which gained its name from the nearby National Center for Atmospheric Research, broke out on Saturday.
So far, the news outlet reports the 190-acre blaze has not caused structural damage or injuries. However, by Monday, the blaze was only 35% contained.
As fire crews continued their work over the weekend to quell the flames, local authorities ordered the evacuation of 19,000 people from 8,000 homes. Monday saw those evacuation orders lifted but authorities are still remaining cautious.
“We know that folks in the city of Boulder really like to get outside and like to go on these hikes,” said Marya Washburn, Boulder Fire-Rescue spokesperson. “If they can go to places that aren’t near the fire area, that would allow firefighters and the folks that need to work on this fire today and do the hard, good work that they’re doing.”
Authorities have not yet identified a cause for the Colorado NCAR Fire.