Without significant rain or snow, the U.S. Forest Service's Rick Cables warns that April could see large wildfires, and the year ahead could be one of the worst ever—even worse than 2002, when the explosive Hayman fire sparked south of Denver (9News).
The windy, dry conditions have kept fires blazing and ignited new ones, including one in Douglas County, south of Denver, where 8,500 people were evacuated Thursday—although the evacuation was lifted before nightfall (Denver Post). As of this morning, the 1,600-acre blaze had been 95 percent contained (Denver Post). In all, three new wildfires scorched roughly 11,000 acres yesterday, and today in southern Colorado, the weather service is warning of "explosive fire growth" (Denver Post).
Governor John Hickenlooper issued an emergency disaster declaration for the Indian Gulch Fire near Golden, meaning $1.5 million in state funds will go toward firefighting expenses as the state struggles with budget issues (Colorado Independent). Given the state's climate, drought tendencies, and pine beetle kill, Colorado could be hit by another devastating fire like Hayman. Senior associate editor Julie Dugdale explored the issue in 2009, providing insight into what we can expect (5280).