summer in Colorado, high temperatures and low humidity can create
tinder-dry conditions that fuel wildfires. On average, over 2,500
forest fires occur in Colorado each year. Most of these fires are
small and quickly extinguished, but large,
catastrophic fires can and do occur.
2002, the fire season got off to an unusually earlyand dangerousstart.
By early June, several major fires were burning across the state,
including the Hayman Firethe largest fire in Colorado's recorded
history, with nearly 138,000 acres burned (an area that is about
40 percent larger than the city of Denver!).
Glenwood Springs, Colorado, another destructive fire in 2002 was
caused by a coal
seam fire that had been smoldering underground for decades.
In the U.S., most wildland fires are started by people. In Colorado,
lightning-caused fires are more common, accounting for about two-thirds
of all wildfires.
can ignite when three key factors come together: a fuel source,
a heat source, and oxygen. Dry forests, brush, or grasslands serve
as the primary fuel source. Heat is usually supplied in the form
of lightning or an existing fire source, such as a campfire or a
cigarette. And of course, oxygen is abundantly supplied by the atmosphere.
Good or Bad?
Fire is natures way of clearing out a forest. In a dry climate
such as Colorados, bacteria and fungi cant always break
down dead organic matter completely. Fire finishes the job, recycling
vital nutrients back into the soil. However, after more than a century
of fire suppression and the consequent buildup of fuels, wildfires
can burn with abnormal intensity, spread rapidly, and do major damage.
homes are destroyed and people are hurt or killed, its easy
to forget that fire is a beneficial natural process. Forest fires
open up holes in the forest, giving new plants light and room to
grow. Most species dont suffer long-term problems, having
evolved with fire as a natural part of the ecosystem. For example,
the cones of the Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine only open to release
their seeds after a fire.
Want to see how many wildfires are burning across the nation today?
Curious about how to increase your homes chances of surviving
a wildfire? This hot site features lots of multimedia
designed to help make you wiser about wildfires.
Learn about the common causes of wildfires, how firefighters fight
wildfires, and more.
Get the latest wildfire information and statistics from this informative
Find out how plants use fire, learn about the gear firefighters
use to help them fight fires, and experiment with a wildfire simulator.
Fire Events Satellite Imagery
View satellite images of the latest wildfire events.
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