West Metro Fire warns about high wildfire danger

9NEWS@5 3/4/2017

KUSA - The West Metro Fire Protection District says conditions are right for fires to spread quickly and wants as many people as possible to know about Saturday's red flag warning.

They say an alarming trend of large and catastrophic fires are breaking out along the Front Range.

 "We want all the community to be aware there is a high danger for wildland fires," said West Metro Assistant Chief Jay Jackson.

A new study from the University of Colorado says more than 84 percent of the wildfires in the country over the last couple of decades were started by people. The other 16 percent started naturally by lightning.

"People are creating a fire season that's pretty much all year round. We are burning in the spring, fall and winter," said Jennifer Balch, who is the lead author on the study.

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 "We need to keep in mind that isn't arson fires all together. That's anything from welding to fireworks to camp fires, anything related to human cause," said Jackson.

But the numbers seem right to him. West Metro is involved in investigating seven suspicious fires on Green Mountain since November. In Weld County, a grass fire was sparked by people burning trash last month.

That same night, target shooters sparked the Rabbit Mountain fire in Boulder County, burning more than 150 acres and destroying four buildings.

"If it continues like this through the spring it is going to be a very hazardous spring for wildland fires," said Jackson.

Jackson is talking about the dry winter, low humidity and warm temperatures fueling an already alarming trend - with the number of large and catastrophic fires along the front range going up for the last ten to fifteen years.
 
"The reason we're seeing more fires is because of just the number of people and the interaction we're having in the forest. And the number of homes built in the forest. We're seeing more large fires," said Jackson, adding they are seeing more dry fuels as well.

A part of West Metro's message is being prepared.

You can call your local fire department or the state forest service and they're able to assess your property and tell you how best to protect your home against fires.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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