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Wildfires In December Put A Strain On Resources

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Firefighters clear brush inside Rocky Mountain National Park near the Fern Lake Fire area on Sunday. (credit: CBS)

Firefighters clear brush inside Rocky Mountain National Park near the Fern Lake Fire area on Sunday. (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – Snowpack throughout Colorado is well below normal for this time of year and the fire season is extending into the holidays. That’s proving to be quite a challenge for wildfire managers.

The above-normal temperatures and lack of moisture across much of the state have significantly raised our fire danger.

“We’ve had a lot of fire activity since March/April, continued on now well into the fall and even into the winter, so there’s a lot of concern that we’d better get some moisture in the Rocky Mountain area pretty quick,” said Steve Segin, a spokesman for the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center in Lakewood.

Fighting a December fire in Colorado can be a challenge. The Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park has drawn nearly 300 firefighters, the majority of whom were brought in from California to help.

“Nationally, there just aren’t many crews available because most of them are seasonal and they’re released through the year, so we’ve had to go out broader than you normally would,” said Paul Broyles, Incident Commander for the Fern Lake Fire.

Broyles said there are about 15,000 firefighters from federal agencies on contract during the summer. There are only about half of that at this time of year. It just means they have had to get creative when it comes to compiling crews.

“So if you need an engine, they just have to look elsewhere for them. It doesn’t mean they’re not there, it just means there’s less of them available,” Segin said.

But fewer options means resources are stretched farther. Fern Lake Fire’s incident commander says they have been warned they could lose the resources they’ve been allocated if there’s an emergency somewhere else.

“In fact, if something broke out on the Front Range again, they would come to us right away,” Broyles said.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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