While Colorado has experienced much needed rain this spring, fire officials are still expecting an average fire season.
"The moisture has helped considerably, at least to forestall the onset of the fire season, which we know is coming," said Paul Cooke, the Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.
The addition of two specialized planes that can spot a wildfire in its very earliest stages means that the state should be better prepared for the fire season. Specialized equipment like this though, means the cost of fighting wildfires in Colorado and the west continues to go up – and officials at every level are planning accordingly.
Colorado has announced the location for a 'first of its kind' aerial firefighting research facility.
The Rifle-Garfield County Airport will be home to the Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting.
"So virtually everything we do in wildland firefighting will be subject to be looked at by this center of excellence," Paul Cooke, the director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, says.
He says the center will test and evaluate existing and new technologies used in aerial firefighting.
Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 7:30 am
Colorado’s legislature this year created the state’s own air fleet for fighting wildfires. The endeavor includes four helicopters, two single engine air tankers, and two PC-12 single engine planes equipped with new thermal imaging technology. The move has put Colorado at the forefront of utilizing advanced technology to battle the destructive blazes. Reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote a series of articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about this new technology. She spoke with KRCC's Andrea Chalfin about it.
The Alkali Fire northwest of Craig has burned more than 20,000 acres.
Officials said the fire is now fully contained.
The wildfire started Wednesday and the cause of it is still under investigation.
Lynn Barclay with Bureau of Land Management said the fire is burning sagebrush and grass.
"This year because we did have a wet spring the grass that we have out there is thicker [and] tall and the sagebrush out in that area can get very, very tall, over five feet," Barclay said. "When you get some wind on that continuous fuel bed the fire just runs."
Several wildfires are remembered around this time of the year. On July 4th, 1994, the Wake Fire ripped through an area outside Paonia, destroying KVNF’s antenna and three homes. KVNF’s own Felix Belmont was one of those homeowners.
Governor John Hickenlooper announced new initiatives on Wednesday to try and make Colorado better prepared for wildfires. State officials say they’re also planning for a drought this summer and a potentially bad fire season. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
Two wildfires are currently burning north of Hotchkiss this afternoon. Both fires are believed to be caused by lightning as the area received numerous lightning strikes during the past 24 hours. Smoke may be visible in the area throughout the day and may settle into valleys overnight.