Southern Colorado is locked in the midst of a July heatwave. Pueblo has topped 100-degrees every day this month, and will break the record for consecutive days over the century mark if the trend continues past Thursday. And while most other communities have not broken any records, the lasting heat is quickly raising the wildfire danger.
All the recent rain this spring has apparently made some people in Southern Colorado think the fire danger is lower this year. In just the past week, 21abandoned campfires were found in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests. There were also 10 fires sparked by lightning.
That has the forest service worried because the wet spring is turning into a dry summer. Depending on what part of Southern Colorado you're talking about, the fire danger ranges from moderate to very high. And with more hot weather in the forecast, the conditions are only expected to get worse.
It was only last summer that a careless act led to the biggest wildfire in Colorado history. It scorched 138,000 acres and destroyed dozens of homes. And even though there has been more rain this year, Mike Kerrigan with the Forest Service says, the fire danger is on the rise. "We're currently moderate on the Pike and we're in high fire danger in the San Isabel."
Capt. Mike Dalton with the Colorado Springs Fire Department is also worried. "Currently the fire danger has been rated very high due to the fuel moistures."
The experts say even though we had a wet spring, it won't take much more like this before we're back to extreme fire danger. The wet spring helped, but we're still in about the same situation we were last year. That's because a wet spring allowed grasses to grow.
And now the hot dry weather is turning them into perfect kindling for a fire. With hot windy days, low humidities and the fine fuels that are out there, we can get back into a fire danger situation pretty rapidly.
For now, they are reminding everyone to be extra careful with fire and hoping Mother Nature will turn down the heat. Colorado Springs Fire officials are especially worried about the city's west side, where so many homes have been built in and around the forest.