JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The wet weather this week has made a big dent in the fire danger.
Last week the fire danger was high to extreme across eastern Colorado. Now it’s rated as just low to moderate. But firefighters warn that it’s likely just a temporary break.
“Most of this has just sprouted up within the last week with the moisture that we’ve seen. So this is great to see,” Cpt. Dan Hatlestad with Inter-Canyon Fire Rescue said.
A week full of storms has been good for grass. Green is returning to areas that have, to this point, been a sea of brown. But fire officials say the vacation won’t last long.
“The problem is that this can often times cause a lot of new growth with light, flashy fuels,” Hatlestad said. “Unless we get consistent moisture over the next few months, fire danger can escalate very rapidly.”
Wildland fire crews have already spent most of the spring battling extreme fire conditions. They’ve burned from the furthest corners of the state to the mountains.
What concerns fire crews the most is how quickly the conditions can turn for the worse. High temperatures and wind can turn days of rain into fire in just hours. That’s already happened this season. Grass is only the first thing to burn, because inside the forests is plenty of timber that is ripe to burn.
“These fuels cannot absorb moisture very quickly, so if we snap them off, we can see tinder ready to flare,” Hatlestad said.
Big storms aren’t as helpful as frequent ones, but fire officials say even those don’t solve all the problems.
“A consistent monsoon type pattern that would blow through the area helps, but then it increases the chance of a lightning-caused fire.”
Even though firefighters have had a nice little break from fighting fires, they still have been training to fight the next fire.