The following article is part of a series looking back at some of the biggest stories from the year in Colorado.
DENVER (CBS4) – Coloradans love the great outdoors, but sometimes it poses a risk. From blizzards to fire, here’s a look at how the environment made news in 2016.
Cold Springs Fire
Neighbors near the Boulder County town of Nederland had complained about illegal camping around their homes for months, then in July their worst fears were realized. Investigators say two men from Alabama failed to properly put out their campfire, sparking a wildfire that destroyed eight homes and burned 500 acres.
In some cases, homeowners ignored evacuation orders to protect their own homes. Others were credited for having created defensible space around their homes.
The men arrested, both transients, were ordered to pay $1 million in restitution and sentenced to two years work release and four years of probation.
On March 22, Denver had a high of 73 degrees. On March 23, commuters slogged through heavy, wet snow as schools were canceled as a blizzard moved in.
PHOTO GALLERY: March 23 Blizzard
CDOT ordered drivers in the metro area to have chains, snow tires or four wheel drive to travel on all interstates and some highways.
The blizzard closed Denver International Airport, stranding thousands. Interstates were closed as well as the blizzard warnings stretched from the foothills into Kansas.
Beaver Creek Fire
The Beaver Creek Fire started during the hot, dry days of June and wasn’t considered contained until snow arrived in October.
The Forest Service says somehow a person ignited the fire on June 19 about 24 miles northwest of Walden. It burned into Wyoming, torching 38,380 acres.
In October, officials charged a juvenile with starting the fire.
A weekend in April didn’t mean showers, it meant heavy wet snow that brought down branches, even trees, some crashing into buildings and cars.
Residents at one Aurora apartment complex woke up to find the carport had collapsed onto their vehicles. The storm hit on the same weekend as Denver’s 4/20 marijuana rally, forcing organizers to cancel the event and reschedule it a month later.
Hayden Pass Fire
On July 8, lightning sparked the Hayden Pass Fire southeast of Salida. That fire threatened a number of homes and poured smoke into the air that caused health alerts along the Front Range. Officials evacuated the entire town of Coaldale.
The fire burned 25 square miles. At times, firefighters simply allowed it to burn. That fire threatened a species of
cutthroat living in Hayden Creek.