Colorado’s Front Range Fires Not Getting More Severe

September 26, 2014

Researchers say wildfires along Colorado’s Front Range might burn more area but aren’t much more severe than before firefighting became commonplace in the 1920s.

The University of Colorado and Humboldt State University in California said Tuesday researchers examined 2,000 square miles of forests and found only 16 percent had shifted from historically low-severity fires to more severe ones.

Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA
Photo: Michael Rieger/FEMA

They say severe fires are ones in which the flames jump from treetop to treetop, called crowning.

Researchers say some recent fires have burned larger areas than past blazes, but the severity in general isn’t getting worse.

They also say increasing construction of homes and businesses in forest areas worsens the danger of fires to people and property and increases firefighting costs.

The study was published in the online journal PLOS ONE.

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