Now, it wouldn't even get into the top ten of most destructive fires in the state's history.
"I think we are entering a new era of fires," CSU Professor Emeritus Bill Romme explained on Monday. Romme is a professor in fire ecology and studied the 2002 Hayman Fire extensively. "I think we've got a very serious problem on our hands and more fire in our future."
Romme believes a changing climate has a lot to do with it. "The (fire) upsurge is very closely related to the climactic conditions during that time," he said. "The summers have been noticeably warmer. The snow has been melting out earlier in the spring."
Even climate change deniers would have a hard time denying that fires appear to be getting much larger in the state. Of the ten largest fires in the state's history, only one hasn't occurred in the last decade.
The Hayman Fire of 2002 remains the largest wildfire in the state's history. It burned more than 137,000 acres. In fact, on one day, the Hayman Fire burned more than 60,000 acres and raced more than 17 miles.
"Here in Colorado that was a wakeup call for a number of communities," said Steve Segin, public information officer with the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.
Segin said forest management has a lot to do with the situation. "Historically a fire would start and it would burn out just the undergrowth. It would be a lower intensity," he said. But a century's worth of fire suppression tactics done throughout the west has created densely-packed forests ripe for fast-moving fires. "It has created unhealthy forest conditions," he said.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)