By Tori Mason

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The summer of 2020 was one of the worst wildfire seasons in Colorado history. The long-range forecast predicts Colorado will experience above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation from now until August.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis

(credit: CBS)

Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control unveiled a more proactive approach to wildfire control in their 2021 Preparedness Plan on Thursday.  
 
“Since the 1970s, our fire seasons have expanded. They are over 78 days longer. We’re having fire years. They’re not fire seasons anymore,” said Mike Morgan, Director of Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control. “We have been hard at work preparing for 2021 and have developed a strategy that allows us to respond more effectively to Colorado’s growing wildfire seasons.” 
 
Fire officials say early detection will play a critical role in wildfire management this season. The governor’s proposed budget includes a substantial investment in both wildfire mitigation and suppression. Crews will use state-of-the-art infrared and color sensors to locate fires. DFPC is also enhancing fire training. 
 
“We want to make sure our firefighters on the ground have the tools they need to stay safe while battling wildfires and working to protect our communities,” said Polis.  
 

pine gulch fire

The Pine Gulch Fire on Aug. 19 (credit: InciWeb)

Under a new agreement with federal partners, all aviation resources will be included in a mutual-aid system. A bill recently signed by Polis will also allow the state to purchase its own helicopter specifically equipped to fight wildfires.  
 
“Not only will the Firehawk be an additional resource for aggressive and early initial attack, but it can also be used on longer duration wildfires,” explained Morgan. 
 
Polis says the number of people at risk of wildfires in Colorado will continue to increase. The current forecasted conditions for this summer are likely to lead to an earlier than usual start to fires in Colorado. Polis says we can all play a role in preventing them.  
 
“While not all wildfires are caused by humans, the majority of wildfires are caused by humans. It can be failing to put out a campfire. It can be tossing a cigarette or cigar. I encourage everyone to do your part, be careful and be cautious this fire season,” said Polis.  
 
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For more information on the state’s wildfire preparations, visit dfpc.colorado.gov/2021-wildfire-preparedness-plan.

Tori Mason