By Chris Spears

(CBS4) – It’s not a headline you want to see anywhere a wildfire can start, let alone in one of the most drought stricken parts of Colorado. But a recent Facebook post from the San Juan National Forest said workers found eight abandoned campfires during the month of May that were not properly extinguished.

The U.S. Forest Service in southwest Colorado made a plea over social media during the Memorial Day Weekend in an effort to help prevent human-caused wildfires. They reminded people to make sure campfires are completely out. They say the only way to ensure a fire is out is to douse and stir it until it is cold to the touch.

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An abandoned campfire in the San Juan National Forest. (credit: USDA Forest Service)

Extreme to exceptional drought conditions continue in western Colorado, including across a large part of the San Juan Mountains. The region is gearing up for the potential to see a very active summer of wildfires due to the ongoing drought.

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The region needs a strong showing from this year’s monsoon season, which is a seasonal shift in the wind that transports warm, humid air into the region. When combined with daytime heating the result is widespread showers and thunderstorms.

But while the rain would be welcomed news, monsoon thunderstorms also contain a lot of lightning, which is the number one cause of wildfires in Colorado. A few lightning-sparked fires have already been reported this year.

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Chris Spears