Are earlier wildfires part of a new climate norm?
SUMMIT COUNTY — As drought conditions persist in Colorado, the trend toward earlier wildfires continues, with the 1,000-acre Galena Fire threatening homes and requiring the evacuation of at least 50 people near Fort Collins.
News outlets and emergency service agencies are streaming information, photos and links about the fire at the #galenafire hashtag. The latest information from Larimer County is at: http://larimersheriff.org/press-release/galena-fire.
The was first reported by Larimer County Emergency Information at about 1 p.m. on Friday, March 15. The fire is burning near Horsetooth Reservoir, not too far from the edge of last summer’s High Park Fire. The Galena Fire initially threatened the visitor center at Lory State Park.
Larimer County officials said Saturday morning they believe the fire was human-caused and estimated its size between 750 and 1,000 acres. They are expecting additional ground crews and a Type 2 helicopter to help fight the fire during the weekend.
Firefighters reported calmer conditions by late in the evening, but expressed concerns about the potential for gusty winds associated with an incoming weather system. That approaching storm may also deliver some showers and higher humidity to help firefighters get the upper hand on the blaze.
Last year in March, a prescribed fire managed by the Colorado State Forest Service grew out of control in Jefferson County. The Lower North Fork Fire ultimately spread across thousands of acres, destroying homes and killing two peoople.
Summit County also saw a March wildfire last year along Montezuma Road, with firefighters standing on roadside snow berms while battling flames in the adjacent forest. In January, forecasters had to issue an almost unprecedented red flag warning for parts of the Rocky Mountain foothills.