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Colorado Wildfire Breaks Out and Deepens Drought, Forcing Evacuations Fiza Ali

By Fiza Ali | October 26, 2020

On Saturday, October 17, 2020, in Boulder, Colorado, a wildland fire bolted through the mountains.

The wildfire erupted rapidly, and expanded to over 7,000 acres in northwest Boulder County. This has caused at least 2,000 people across the state to evacuate from their homes. This has led to many properties being endangered.

The fires were fueled by changes in the climate, especially drier landscapes, less rainfall, strong winds, and above-average temperatures. Humans have created self-defeating policies that are causing these wildfires to erupt. Human-caused climate change is causing rougher and more extreme weather conditions, which lead to more wildfires. The entire state of Colorado is also in drought conditions, with nearly 60 percent of the state enduring an extreme drought or worse, according to the latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. This is the first time that the most of the state has been affected by drought since 2013. However, these wildfires are not common in the month of October. It is getting more common to be in the month of October because of climate change, which is leading up to less precipitation, and dry winds.

An article written by Andrew Freedman (in The Washington Post) states, “The Colorado blazes also come amid the worst wildfire season on record in California, where well over 4.1 million acres have gone up in flames, destroying more than 9,000 structures and killing 31.” These statistics portray the effect of human-driven climate change on our planet, and how this is getting out of hand. Colorado, as well as California, is going through a burn rebuild, burn rebuild cycle. Due to climate change, the wildfires are occurring more frequently, and then, of course, to make sure everything goes back to normal, residents will do their part to help out their community.

These fires are frightening, and above all, put the lives of thousands of people at risk. To help lower the rate of these wildfires, there are some specific ways that can make our everyday lives better and make our fears of these catastrophic things happening lower. One thing we can do is to be cautious when using flammable liquids. Also, removing dead branches and just taking care of our environment by being mindful of our surroundings can make a big difference. An article on the American Red Cross website states, “Prevention efforts should also include techniques to stop a spark or lightning strike from becoming an uncontrolled fire. Fortunately, the way we plant and maintain the landscaping around our homes can reduce the chance that a small fire becomes a wildfire.” This shows that even taking the smallest steps can help reduce wildfires by a significant amount, even though the causes might be out of our control, i.e. lightning. According to the American Red Cross, some things we can do more specifically would be to “Choose fire-resistant plants. Consult a landscaper in your area or this state-by-state list of fire-resistant plants at the National Fire Protection Association’s Firewise website, Create empty space between shrubs and trees to reduce the chance of flames leaping between them, Prune trees above the height of bushes and shrubs (approximately 6’-10’ off the ground) and remove dead branches, mow grassy areas regularly so that the grass is never more than 4” high, remove dead and dry plants that could fuel a fire, as well as fallen leaves, pine cones, and other dry plant material.” Although this might seem like a lot, these are things that are simple, and don’t take much time out of our daily schedules to do. Overall, the best, most realistic way of reducing the prevalence of wildfires is to make small changes in our behavior that will have a bigger outcome in the end.

Citations:

Freedman, Andrew. “Colorado Wildfire Erupts amid Deepening Drought, Forcing Evacuations in Boulder County.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Oct. 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2020/10/18/colorado-wildfire-boulder-calwood/.

“Prevent Wild Fires.” How To Prevent Wildfires | American Red Cross, www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/wildfire/how-to-prevent-wildfires.html.