Current Fire season probably not a repeat of 2002

Blog Post created by laurenbackstrom Employee on Jul 3, 2012

According to a recent article published by the Los Angeles times, as of Sunday, seven large fires in Colorado had charred a total of nearly 152,000 acres. None individually is as big as the Hayman fire in 2002 which burned more than 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes and resulted in one civilian fatality. But the Waldo Canyon fire west of Colorado Springs, which claimed two lives, and the High Park blaze in the mountains west of Fort Collins, now 100% contained, burned more than 700 structures, making them the most destructive in the state's history.

According the Los Angeles times article four salient points were made:

  1. Federal Officials do not expect the season to be as bad as 2002.
  2. Severe drought conditions in the Colorado basin have caused these significant western states fire events (see below map).  According to Bob Keane, U.S. Forest Service Research Ecologist "We've had conditions like this in the past, so you can't say with any degree of certainty…that this is climate change. But what you can say is that it certainly meets the model of climate change."
  3. According to Tom Harbour, U.S. Forest Service Director of Fire and Aviation Management “Prescribed fire and mechanical thinning of dense growth are crucial to making forest lands less vulnerable” and,
  4. “It's that combination of having communities become fire adapted and improving the condition of the forest that is going to get us out of this death spiral of increasingly severe fire that we're in right now," Harbour said.

Map: Fires burning across the continental United States as of 07/03 according to MODIS Satellite Imagery.  Please click on map image to access the ‘beta’ version of the Firewise Mapper.

-Hylton Haynes