Do Forest Fires Affect the Denver, CO Area?
Parts of the American West have a reputation for being hit hard by wildfires. Currently, northern California is being pummeled by a series of wild fires. But California is not the only state in the US where forest fires occur. Colorado, too, is affected by forest fires.
What is a forest fire?
Wildfires, grass fires, peat fires, forest fires and bush fires all refer to uncontrolled fires that wipe out large areas of land. As devastating acts of nature, forest fires are known to burn for days or weeks. Entire forests and the organic matter within them are destroyed in the flames.
Forest fires occur as a force of nature, and can be caused by lightning strikes. People can also carelessly or accidentally start forest fires, such as at campsites. Arson is a known cause of forest fires. These fires may go unnoticed at first, but eventually get out of hand.
Are all forest fires the same?
A forest fire can be destructive, but not all of them burn the same. Some forest fires, like ground fires, burn slowly. Ground fires burn organic substances in the soil, normally the material under vegetation. Surface fires burn leaves and twigs on the ground’s surface and spread quickly.
Crown fires are devastating and burn with intense heat; plus, they have the power to unleash huge flames that leap from treetop to treetop. These fires cause enormous damage when spread by wind and heat and become worse when exposed to steep slopes.
What causes a forest fire to burn intensely?
Several environmental factors can increase the intensity of a forest fire. Oxygen feeds the flames, and winds supply this necessary component of major forest fires. Winds can also change direction or direct forest fires to other areas filled with new fuel sources.
Forest fires favor very warm and dry climates. Denver is especially warm and dry in the summer’s hot season, with high temperatures hovering around 81 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. The average precipitation in Colorado during July and August is a meager 1.68 to 2.01 inches.
The season also determines whether a forest fire will burn. In the American West, summer is a peak season for forest fires, due to the hot temps and dry conditions. In the heat, fuels are drier, allowing them to feed forest fire flames. Plus, oxygen is richer than in winter.
Forest fires also spread with greater rapidity when an abundant fuel source is available. Dry vegetation, including tree needles, dry grass and dead leaves allow the fires to spread with ease. Additionally, vegetation containing resin or natural oils accelerate the spread of forest fires.
The Colorado National Forests contain an enormous 13 million acres of protected public land. These public lands include the Grand Mesa National Forest, with 346,55 acres; the Roosevelt National Forest, with 813,799 acres; and the Pike National Forest, with 1,106,604 acres.
Colorado is filled with fuels that can feed forest fires. Plus, in summertime, the dry heat of Denver can fan the flames. High winds can spread forest fires to nearby forests and other natural vegetation, especially if they are dry as a result of the blistering Denver temperatures.
Which forest fires affect Denver?
The Denver area is no stranger to forest fires. In fact, due to extremely dry conditions and multiple forest fires currently burning in the state, Colorado’s governor has issued a 30-day ban on fires. Colorado residents are prohibited from burning fires, including fireworks.
The forest fires that have recently erupted around the Denver area include the Cameron Peak Fire, reported on August 13, 2020. To the west of Denver is the Williams Fork Fire, reported on August 14, 2020. Lewstone Creek, to the north of Denver, was reported on August 8, 2020.
Infrared cameras flying over the fires have captured data about the extent of the fires. Pine Gulch Fire, west of Denver, affects 133,528 acres; Grizzly Creek Fire affects 30,719 acres; Williams Fork Fire affects 11,054 acres; and the Cameron Peak Fire affects 20,132 acres.
The environmental conditions fanning the flames include extreme drought, which currently affects nearly one-quarter of the state. As a result, new forest fires continue to erupt. The smoke originating from the forest fires pollutes the air, leaving Colorado residents with unhealthy air to breathe.
Fortunately, 75 percent of Colorado’s firefighting costs are covered by a FEMA grant. On the flip side, the damage to Coloradoans’ homes and businesses is not covered by the grant. Coverage is also not extended to infrastructure destroyed by the area’s forest fires.
While firefighters gaze at ember showers cascading from the forest fires, crews have to be extra careful about the potential spread of Covid-19. Fighting the dual battle of forest fires and Covid-19 means crews must travel in vehicles solo, maintain social distance, and contain themselves in small groups.
Home and business owners are urged to contact a reputable fire damage restoration company, like ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration, to return their homes to a habitable condition after fire damage. Even after the fire is extinguished, soot, smoke and corrosive residue can continue to cause ruin.
ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration technicians are experienced in stabilizing and repairing structural damage caused by fires. Household goods exposed to soot and smoke are cleaned by our trained specialists. Our speedy response ensures your belongings have a better chance to be restored.
In addition to cleaning soot and smoke from structural materials, like walls and ceilings, we have the equipment and knowledge to clean damaged electronics, as well as clothing and other textiles. We safely remove soot from household surfaces, like marble, porcelain, and upholstery.
Avoid permanent fire and smoke damage to your home or business by immediately contacting ServiceMaster Fire and Water Restoration after the fire is extinguished by fire officials. We are proud to offer emergency fire damage cleanup services to Denver, Colorado residents 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.