Hot Weather Ushers In Fire Season

By: Katherine Cook Email
By: Katherine Cook Email


This week's heat wave lines up with the start of summer and something else-- fire season. It may be hard to believe after so much winter snow and rain, but experts say all that precipitation may actually make this fire season especially bad.

Colorado Springs Fire Department's Wildland Risk Manager, Christina Randall, said all the rain has caused trees and brush in the area to experience a lot of growth this spring, which isn't such a good thing.

"Once those fuels dry out, they'll only make for more material that could catch fire as the summer goes on," said Randall.

That's one reason why Randall samples fuel moisture across the urban interface twice a month. On Wednesday, she collected scrub oak leaves, surface fuels and top soil from North Cheyenne Canyon. Randall puts the samples in small canisters and weighs them before putting them in a lab oven. After 24 hours in the 150 degree heat, Randall weighs the samples again to measure how much moisture the samples were carrying.

"Knowing their moisture content at any given time is important, because if we do get a fire out here, it will tell us if it would burn through the trees, or just along the ground," said Randall. "It's helps firefighters know what to anticipate."

Randall says high wind, low humidity and high temperatures are also big fire danger factors that have already come into play here.

"The trees are already dried out, so it's only going to get worse from there."

As of Wednesday, fire danger in Colorado Springs was listed as "moderate," but Randall says she expects it to reach "high," by week's end.


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