New fire restrictions in place across parts of Colorado as temperatures heat up

Authorities put new fire restrictions in place across parts of Colorado’s Front Range and Western Slope this week amid growing concern for the potential for wildfires as temperatures heat up.

Boulder County enacted Stage 1 fire restrictions for unincorporated areas in the western portion of the county Wednesday, as did Clear Creek County. Officials in western Colorado also took preventive measures to try to mitigate the risk of fire this week with Stage 1 restrictions in Ouray, San Miguel and Montrose counties.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Gunnison and Uncompahgre field offices enacted Stage 1 restrictions as well.

Stage 1 fire restrictions generally prohibit fireworks, the lighting of any fires, smoking unless within a confined space, and the shooting of firearms unless at a designated range or hunting with a valid license.

Peter Goble, a climatologist and drought specialist at the Colorado Climate Center, said the frequency and severity of wildfires seen in recent years weren’t always a norm in Colorado.

“There has definitely been a noticeable uptick in fires, particularly big fires, in the state over the last few decades,” he said. “A lot of that is because of drought. Climate change has made things warmer. The warmer it gets, the less abundant water becomes in the soil and the plants, which results in drought. Drought just makes an area much more prone to fire, which is what we’re seeing now and have been seeing in the state lately.”

Goble also said that June, July and early August tend to be the biggest window for wildfires, not just in Colorado, but nationwide.

With temperatures soon headed back into the 90s across metro Denver, the National Weather Service anticipates precipitation in the coming days, giving reason to hope, as potential weekend showers may help stave off burning.

“It looks dry today and tomorrow,” said meteorologist Scott Entrekin of the weather service’s Boulder office. “But Friday afternoon we are expecting more moisture which will develop through Saturday and the rest of the weekend. This is good news, because the added moisture will likely lower the risk of fire.”

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