Expert says Colo. could see 'mega fires' like Ariz., NM

5:46 PM, Jul 3, 2011   |    comments
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"[They are] much larger, much more destructive [kind of wildfire] then what we've seen in the past," Tim Sullivan, Colorado state director for The Nature Conservancy, a group that works to protect habitats and species all over the world, said.

Sullivan is also a volunteer wildland firefighter.

"[The] Hayman fire fit that description. It was the biggest fire in Colorado's history. We're beginning to see much more frequently these mega destructive fires that are very difficult to control and can cause great damage to both the forest and the people," he said.

The solution to keeping these mega fires at bay could feel counterintuitive to most people not familiar with firefighting.

Sullivan says the way to prevent mega fires is with controlled burns.

"We have to be taking fuel out of our forests, thinning them and putting prescribed controlled burns," Sullivan said.

If not, there is too much fuel to feed the mega fire.

"We've got dry, hot conditions, particularly in the south. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas this year have much drier than normal conditions, and in our forests, we've had higher levels of fuel than we've ever seen before just from many years of putting out fires before they could burn," Sullivan said.

So what's next? Sullivan says the best thing to do is have a fire-wise home that is mitigated for fire prevention and educate communities on fire dangers.

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