Colorado fire fighters. Source Bureau of Land Management.

3.. 2.. 1.. Claim: Colorado Wildfires Because Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Climate ambulance chasers are trying to bag another photogenic wildfire for their cause. But Colorado legislated a moratorium on prescribed burns in 2012, following a burn fail which ended in three fatalities.

How climate change primed Colorado for a rare December wildfire

The ground, typically moist from snow this time of year, was dry and flammable as a result of unusually warm temperatures and a lack of precipitation in recent months, experts said.

Jan. 1, 2022, 7:30 PM AEST By Elizabeth Chuck

The rare December blaze that tore through Boulder County, Colorado, at frightening speed this week may not be that unusual in the future, wildfire experts are warning, as climate change sets the stage for more.

Wildfires do not historically happen during the winter, particularly in areas like Boulder County, where the ground is normally moist from snow. 

But in recent months, Colorado has experienced a severe drought. From July 1 through Dec. 29, 2021, Denver recorded its lowest amount of precipitation by over an inch, with snowfall at record low levels, too. Meanwhile, Boulder, which typically sees about 30 inches of snow between September and December, received just one inch in that period leading up to the day of the fire. 

Combine that with an unseasonably warm fall, and the ground had significantly less moisture in it than it normally would — creating perfect conditions for a fire to flourish.

“Everything is kind of crispy,” said Keith Musselman, a snow hydrologist and assistant research professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. “In addition to the extreme drought, just one- or two-degree warmer days can really dry out the landscape quite a bit more, so everything is that much drier and flammable.”

Officials say wind gusts of up to 105 mph fanned the flames, rapidly destroying between 500 and 1,000 homes and giving residents barely any time to evacuate.

Read more:

Foresters calling for an end to the moratorium on prescribed burns in early 2021.

Foresters Want More Prescribed Burns To Avoid Future Wildfire Disasters In Colorado. But The State Forest Service Isn’t Allowed To Conduct Them

By Michael Elizabeth Sakas January 28, 2021

Prescribed burns require permits and specific weather conditions to be done safely. The National Park Service considers it one of the most important tools for forest health and for preventing wildfire destruction.

That means burning piles of debris, and also setting fire to aces of land — a procedure known as broadcast burning.

“The Colorado state forest service does not do that anymore,” Twitchell said. 

Burning authority 

In March of 2012, the Colorado State Forest Service was managing a prescribed fire southeast of Conifer. The winds picked up on a hot and dry day, which started the Lower North Fork Fire. It killed three people, and destroyed nearly two dozen homes. 

Colorado State Forester Mike Lester said the event was traumatic for many — agency staffers included.

“A lot of really good people really felt like their life’s work was tarnished in some way,” Lester said. “And it was unfair because they applied the techniques at that point in time we thought were the right ways to do it.”

An independent review of the fire found no individual at fault. But victims criticized the review and wanted change. A bill was passed, which ended the state forest service’s authority to do prescribed burning. The agency’s fire unit employees were moved to the Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

Read more:

Despite this, Colorado announced plans for prescribed burns late last year – or maybe the moratorium was partial? Or was the moratorium lifted in 2021? If anyone in Colorado knows what is happening with prescribed burn policy, please comment below.

Prescribed burns planned for parts of Colorado in coming weeks

Tamera Twitty
Oct 1, 2021

As fall weather hits Colorado, fire management units in Rio Grande National Forest and Cañon City have announced their plans to conduct annual controlled burns. 

Residents in these areas may see smoke for several hours each day during burns and are asked to not call emergency services.

There are various reasons that a prescribed fire could be planned, including to reduce debris that could fuel a wildfire, manage landscapes, and improve animal habitats.

Read more:

CNN reports nobody died in the December Colorado fire. This is a huge credit to emergency responders, but Colorado also got very lucky.

Hundreds of homes were lost in December, and the fire spread very quickly. In my opinion this suggests the restrictions on prescribed burns may have had an impact. Even if prescribed burns were restarted in late 2021, if this is what happened, it would have been very difficult to remove 10 years of accumulated fuel load in a few months.

Blaming the problem on climate change without mentioning Colorado’s forest management policies does not help anyone understand the situation.

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January 2, 2022 2:43 am

In the land of long droughts followed by flooding rains every time there is a bushfire we are told that climate change is to blame.

No, the major climate change approximately 130,000 years and drier conditions in Australia resulted over time in rainforests being replaced by eucalyptus that better tolerates hot and dry weather conditions.

A lack of management of the land and removal of fire hazard fuels on the ground, worse during dry conditions is the main problem.

Reply to  Dennis
January 2, 2022 4:52 am

I live very close to where it happened. I was working outside and smelled the faint odor of something burning and I walked around my neighborhood to see where it was coming from. I didn’t find anything but the strong wind was coming from the west so I thought maybe it was just a grass fire like some arsonist set in Boulder just a few days ago.

So, I went back to my outdoor projects, in a somewhat sheltered spot just barely inside my garage with the door open. Well, the odor got worse and worse and when the winds died down it seemed like snow (actually ashes) were falling from the sky. The sunshine became diffuse and it seemed like light was coming from all directions.

I finished my projects by mid-afternoon before my wife told me there was a big grass fire off of Hwy 36 which was closed.

Below is a story about the arsonist that set the grass fire in Boulder recently and below that is a video of what many now believe started the fire. Initially it was believed to be due to downed power lines but that turned out not to be the case.

On Friday morning, before it got really cold and the heavy snow came in, I rode my mountain bike over to the Louisville Avista hospital to look at the burned out structures, which were still smoldering. The hospital was undamaged except for smoke damage but interestingly, all of the greenery on the south side of the parking lot was burned.

The dozens of homes on the neighborhood to the west were completely destroyed down to their basement foundations. About 3 houses at the highest elevation and without much to block the wind behind them were not really touched.

I had thought the house fires would start on the roofs, but now I think what happens in that in these kind of fires, is that it’s where burning embers can settle that an ignition source is created. The fires ignite near ground level. If the air circulation is such that embers don’t land, then there is a chance that the structure will survive.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scissor
Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Scissor
January 2, 2022 7:16 am

Glad you are OK, someone on my cycling team in Superior got burned out.

As for “climate change”, high winds in winter/spring are hardly unusual along the front range, especially Boulder County.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Scissor
January 2, 2022 12:02 pm

Thanks for the eye witness account.

Paul S.
Reply to  Scissor
January 3, 2022 1:49 pm

Yep, I was a mile away from where the fire started. Fortunantly for me, the wind was at my back

Reply to  Dennis
January 2, 2022 9:31 am

Governments must blame climate change as legal POLICY. Otherwise they end up with a bunch of court cases like this BC Flood media report…

Johne Morton
January 2, 2022 2:43 am

I’ve lived in Colorado since the mid-90s, and can absolutely attest that there have never been fires here until now, unless you count all the other La Niña years and sometimes other years, too.


Reply to  Johne Morton
January 2, 2022 5:21 am

But other than that …

Ron Long
January 2, 2022 2:57 am

Timely report about the Colorado fires, Eric. The additional factor was the Chinook Winds, which are the adiabatic lapse rate winds that race down the Rocky Mountains east side. The ironic aspect of this set of Chinook Winds is that the storm systems that were responsible for the record December snow accumulation over Donner Pass, between Reno and Sacramento, along the I-80 Freeway, where more than 202 inches fell, replacing the old record of 179 inches (set in 1970, an Ice Age fear event). These storm systems continued eastward and produced the Chinook Winds that caused power lines to spark, the mentioned drought condition got fires going, and the strong (over 105 mph) winds fanned the flames. Check out for an explanation of these Chinook Winds associated with the December Colorado fires.

To bed B
Reply to  Ron Long
January 2, 2022 4:14 am

“BOULDER, Colo. — Howling Chinook winds that had pushed a weekend wildfire like a blowtorch through 6,000 acres and 15 structures died down and the blaze was nearly contained, authorities said.

The erratic, fast-moving fire, fanned by gale-force winds, forced more than 100 people to vacate their homes Saturday, but the winds diminished Sunday, enabling firefighters get a handle on the blaze.”

Howling Chinook winds that had pushed a weekend wildfire…
NOV. 26, 1990

A bit earlier but nothing new. Just more chances of a fire being lit, these days.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 2, 2022 5:23 am

Yup … if more moisture precipitates to the west with a west wind, then it makes perfect sense that less moisture will precipitate somewhere downwind.

Reply to  Ron Long
January 2, 2022 6:53 am

Do any builders use Hardiboard in Colorado and other western fire prone areas? It’s nearly fireproof being concrete and fiberglass siding. I’m thinking a traditional tile roof and Hardiboard siding might reduce fire spread significantly. Of course a burning tree falling on a house means the game is up.

Reply to  CGarner
January 2, 2022 7:22 am

Some but not all. Most of my neighborhood does but it is not a local code requirement.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  CGarner
January 2, 2022 7:37 am

Good idea. The other issues are the gutters and defensible space. Embers land in gutters and start the structure on fire. If the roof, facia and soffits are cement fiber board and the roof is tile, you should be well protected. Defensible space refers to eliminating flammable trees, tall grass, shrubs, etc. around the structure for at least 30 feet with an outer 100 feet of additional defense such as trees limbed up to 8 feet, etc.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 9:22 am

How about not having the houses ten feet apart?

Reply to  MAL
January 2, 2022 10:02 am

Then they couldn’t accommodate as many Californians.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  roaddog
January 2, 2022 11:15 am


Bill Rocks
Reply to  MAL
January 2, 2022 10:42 am

Yes, that is a given.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 9:31 pm

If the roof, facia and soffits are cement fiber board

With over 1,000+ homes working the trades, I have not seen that done and none of the national home builders do that in Colorado.

John Hultquist
Reply to  CGarner
January 2, 2022 9:40 am

I’m in Washington State, east of the Cascades. Fires near me in the last 20 years have gotten people to learn about “Firewise” programs. There are too many fire prevention/resistant options to mention here. Search “firewise”
I now have had Hardie® Plank lap siding on my house and will finish with same on a large shed before next fire season. Some of the treatment has a false-stone on the lower 4 feet. Mine is from Versetta Stone. Mine looks like sandstone; a similar image is found in the Company’s idea-gallery — blue plank over stone.

A tip: where to leaves accumulate against your structures: that’s where the burning embers will fall. There is an easy fix; rake and compost.

John Hultquist
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 2, 2022 9:44 am

Fix the html stuff and have a look:
versettastone (dot) com/idea-gallery/

Reply to  John Hultquist
January 2, 2022 6:12 pm

This is nice stuff but way beyond the means of most people.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 2, 2022 10:44 am

Leaves, etc. in the gutters are a known problem, also.

Reply to  CGarner
January 2, 2022 9:28 pm

No, harbiboard is limited to wet areas of the home. Drywall takes place for interior fire mitigation.

Jake Siglain
Reply to  CGarner
January 3, 2022 3:45 pm

Lost my home in 2015 Valley fire in No. Cal all hardiboard, burned to the ground.

Bruce Cobb
January 2, 2022 3:00 am

Weather plus stupidity caused the fires. They can’t change the weather. But stupidity…

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
January 2, 2022 9:25 am

If anything I have learned it easier to change the weather than change stupidity will be with us forever. even worse we bad a Pandemic of stupidity in the last thirty some years.

Joao Martins
Reply to  Dennis
January 3, 2022 6:10 am

Yes. In Portugal they also call “eucalyptus” what forest scientists always called bad management of forests. A question of … “semantics”, isn’t it?

Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 3:33 am

Massive housing developments with houses only a few feet apart. A few decades past that was all farm, ranch and open space. I lived close to Louisville and Superior, Co. for many years and those winter winds, roaring down the foothills of the Colorado front range were famous and would rock the house every winter. 80 miles per hour was normal. In our new subdivision, the houses were about 15-20 feet apart, 2 story. I had often worried that once a fire started in any upwind house, we would have no chance. Was glad to move for that reason.

It was only a matter of time and sounds like the situation described by Anthony Watts regarding his residence and move from away from the eventual Paradise, California fire area. The Calif. fire area had pine trees. In the Boulder County, Colorado area and environs, there are only trees along the creeks and planted in the sprawling housing developments because it is so dry and windy very few can grow naturally. But the open-space grass and brush is almost always dry – one hour fuels. Nearby and infamous Rocky Flats is treeless for a reason, it is so windy and dry.

The above article says that this terrible event was because there was a one-inch deficit of season precipitation. Really? Is that all? One inch less than average and that creates a disaster?

This terrible event does not surprise me at all. I contemplated this possibility for many years when I lived there and watched the once vast open lands develped as modern urban areas. Just look at an arreal photo – simply Google Superior, Colorado or Louisville. Look at the developments, all new. In our modern world, people inhabit so much of the earth in “permanent” structures – floodplains, canyons, dry forests, wind-swept steppes, unstable coastlines, barrier islands = shifting sand bars, subsiding deltaic swamps, riverine levies, the slopes of active volcanoes …

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 4:24 am

I looked on Google Earth and that whole area is designed to burn. If the fire had made it a little further east the fire storm would make Dresden, in WW II, look like a camp fire.

Reply to  Yooper
January 2, 2022 5:40 am


Houses aren’t the wildfire risk, only the victims of wildfires that occur in densely forested, poorly maintained wild lands surrounding the structures. Cars, wildlife, livestock, and humans also burn up in wildfires, but they are not the causes of wildfires.

Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 7:03 am

Duane, thanks for clearing up for me something that Yooper didn’t say.

Reply to  mkelly
January 2, 2022 6:39 pm

He did say it, that the fact that there are more homes further east of the fire that the damage would be vastly worse (“Dresden:), which is of course ridiculously stupid and the opposite of the truth.

Learn to read and actually comprehend what you read.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 4:37 am

I am not surprised by all this. I am surprised this had not happened earlier. These wind events are common to the area. One reason the area was not at all appealing to us. Had this happen before as a “near miss” would there have been any corrective action to mitigate this recent disaster? Perhaps mowing, fire breaks and burning of the grass (control burn)? High density housing in areas prone to high winds and surrounded by dry terrain could have been anticipated, however I can see numerous reasons why it was not. For 30+ years we’ve lived in CO, dries, grass fires, high winds and high density housing along the Front Range was a given.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 4:55 am

No, it said “lowest amount of precipitation by over an inch”, which does sound a bit confusing. It broke the record low, by over an inch.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 5:37 am

It is not the houses that create the fire hazard. It is the vegetation, especially evergreen trees loaded with resin, as well as dense understory vegetation, that creates the wildfire risk. It is easy to control the spread of structural fires today with modern construction methods and materials that are fire resistant. In dense forests, that is the risk.

That is why in heavily forested areas it is strongly recommended that pines be kept at least 30 feet away from structures, and thinned to reduce the fuel load while also improving the health of the forest. Whether in forested mountains, or in pine flatwoods like we have here in Florida. Sooner or later dry conditions will prevail and some idiot will provide an ignition source.

Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 9:34 am

Irrelevant. There are very few trees in the area that burned. This started as a grass fire.

Reply to  roaddog
January 2, 2022 6:40 pm

Hey, genius .. did anybody tell you that grass is vegetation too?

Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 8:12 pm

Especially evergreen trees, Einstein.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 10:03 am

Go to this location and enter Street View” :
39.926963, -105.159654

Spin to look past the postal truck. See the forest?

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  John Hultquist
January 2, 2022 11:33 am

You have an odd definition of “forest”. The only place where trees are located is where houses have been built or at parks and golf courses, or thinly following the few very small water courses. This was a grasslands fire, nothing “foresty” about it at all.

Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 6:26 pm

“It is easy to control the spread of structural fires today with modern construction methods and materials that are fire resistant.”

It might be easy in one sense but it is very expensive.

By the way, why are there sometimes text formatting controls and other times (like now) none.

Reply to  AndyHce
January 2, 2022 6:44 pm

Nope it isn’t.

Let’s see, where have all the wildfires destroying tens of thousands of acres and thousands of structures taken place? In cities? In suburbs?

Nope – they’ve ALL taken place in heavily vegetated rural and exurban areas with lots of vegetation, especially evergreen forest areas.

That wasn’t always true – prior to the 20th century many urban areas were constructed of dried timbers, wooden roofs, and of course had no fire fighting systems other than buckets ..and so burnt to the ground quite readily. But not since the 20th century.

Reply to  AndyHce
January 3, 2022 9:05 am

There’s a bit of a problem with some modern construction materials that are LESS fire resistant than older materials, and because they’re lighter and cheaper, they’re used more. Consider I-Joists vs. dimensional lumber – NFPA has a video showing the difference in how fast they burn to a point of collapsing the structure.

Reply to  AndyHce
January 3, 2022 9:06 am

Oh and you can use ctrl-I, ctrl-B, etc for simple formatting even if you can’t see the controls. Can’t answer the question why they’re not visible though.

Reply to  Bill Rocks
January 2, 2022 6:45 am

Excerpt from another post on WUWT that appeared in my mailbox. An excellent follow-up on contributing factors.

“I would like to believe that Balch’s Earth Lab scientists have been campaigning for the housing developments in Boulder’s suburbs of Louisville and Superior to create a system of firebreaks and defensible space. Those suburbs had built into easily ignited grassland in a region where fires are rapidly spread by the dry Chinooks descending from the Rockies. Such natural fire danger is not always obvious to the public looking for affordable housing. But it is not obvious that was ever done, at least not as obvious as faulty climate change narratives.

Fire experts should have pushed for building codes, requiring adequate spacing between new houses. As a story in Wildfire Today reported today, one common feature of the surviving homes was they were more distant from neighboring homes. Many houses in the devastated subdivisions were only 10 to 20 feet apart. Without adequate fire breaks or defensible space, if just one house allowed the fire to reach it, the heat of that burning house is enough to ignite any house next to it. Similar dynamics were seen in California’s Tubbs and Camp Fires that demolished neighborhoods.

comment imageBut perhaps local governments were greedy. Eager to build a tax base a growing Louisville population was most important. Politicians had worked hard to present Louisville as one of the top 10 most livable little cities. Putting natural fire danger front and center, might put a damper on the city’s attractiveness. And not surprisingly the Denver Democrats didn’t waste time to capitalize on the Marshall Fire devastation. The released a statement claiming “This fire has also punctuated our climate crisis and made abundantly clear the need for bold action. The science is clear, and the impacts are very real. We will continue to work with our community and legislators to ensure climate change is treated with the urgency and attention it deserves.”

But the science does not show a connection between the Marshall Fire and Climate Change. And due to the greed of the media, politicians, and selfish scientists, only scientific integrity is facing a real crisis.”

January 2, 2022 4:19 am

How do you perform prescribed burns on a towns backyards and roads?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 4:55 am

harvest that woody material- and send it to a biomass power plant!

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 4:58 am

Foulgrunt, why would they need to?

Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 5:26 am

You do it upwind from the town. Boulder is on the eastern slope of the Rockies. The fires had to have initiated upwind of Boulder.


Reply to  Duane
January 3, 2022 8:25 pm

No they didn’t. The Marshall fire started south of Boulder near the intersection of 93 and Marshall Rd. The fire blew across miles of wide open grassland and rolling hills before it got into Superior.. Don’t shake your head too hard or you’ll hurt yourself.

Last edited 1 year ago by carlos
Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 7:35 am

“How do you perform prescribed burns on a towns backyards and roads?”

What kind of world do you inhabit, ghalfrunt?

This policy not only acknowledges the value of the Borough’s trees but identifies key responsibilities which determine a consistent approach towards tree management. The approach is presented as a number of components designed to give clear guidance to all stakeholders.

Trees in an urban/suburban environment are managed by means other than fire. Tree surgeons etc are grateful for the contracts.

Last edited 1 year ago by strativarius
Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 9:36 am

With a mower.

Mike Dubrasich
Reply to  roaddog
January 2, 2022 11:31 am

Yes yes yes. It’s the fuels that burn, so water mow mulch compost remove them. Is Boulder without a water system? Are they unable to water their lawns?

You can’t do controlled burning in a subdivision. What kind of nutball red herring comment was that? I doubt that was a quote from CSFS. They can’t CYA with absurdist whining. It was absolutely the responsibility of the fire protection establishment (state, county, city) to control the fuels with appropriate treatments. They failed to do their jobs, and the predictable preventable tragedy happened.

The incompetence at fuels management is epidemic. Thousands of towns face the same fate and sit on their hands in goggle-eyed dumbfoundedness. It’s what you get when people rely on Big Government to do everything for them. Some intelligent foresight and self-reliance would work wonders.

Reply to  ghalfrunt
January 2, 2022 9:51 am

The facts escape our village idiot now the bushfire started in backyards .. who knew 🙂

Australia burnt out a lot of towns as well in their bushfires and some places didn’t even have any vegetation … wow how does that work greentard.

Next Ghalfrunt will tell us the great fire of London and Rome were bushfires.

Last edited 1 year ago by LdB
January 2, 2022 5:20 am

Meanwhile, the western slope of the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada are enjoying above normal snowfall this winter season.

Is that “climate change” too? Or is that just “weather”.

As Alan Jackson sang, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere”.

If it is a drought in one county of Colorado, it is guaranteed that other counties in Colorado are wetter at the very same time. Ditto with warmer and cooler, and windier and calmer.

It’s all called “weather”. And it’s not to be cherry picked.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Duane
January 2, 2022 8:57 am

And one annot tell ‘drought’ merely by pecipitation amounts. I live west of the divide in Colorado and had 120% of our average 18″ of water for the water year ending Oct. 1st. But, going 3-4 weeks with zero precipitation and then getting an inch or two means it just runs off the hydrophobicly dry earth. That was the situation this past summer

Reply to  Steve Keohane
January 2, 2022 6:51 pm

Soils don’t ever become “hydrophobic”. Soils have varying characteristics (such as grain size, mineral types,, and organic content) that affect how much precipitation runs off vs infiltrates into the ground, which runoff is also affected by vegetation type and density, as well as slopes and “antecedent moisture content” (the greater the antecedent moisture content, the greater the runoff percentage – the opposite of what you wrote). In point of fact, dry soils run off less than very wet or saturated soils. Scientific and engineering fact.

Going without rain is going to result in greater infiltration not less. However, in the steep mountainous terrain in Colorado and similar terrain elsewhere, the steep slopes, minimal soil organic content, and shallow depth of soils results in high runoff rates whenever it rains heavily.


January 2, 2022 5:33 am

“ Everything is kind of crispy,”


Everything is kind of flaky

January 2, 2022 5:38 am

And now you know the rest of the world, thanks to wuwt.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
January 2, 2022 7:02 am

“And that’s the way it is.” Walter Cronkite (late newscaster’s signoff)

Mumbles McGuirck
January 2, 2022 6:01 am

Funny how in all the news coverage I saw about this fire, they never mentioned the fire bug setting a blaze a few weeks before. All the speculation centered around downed power lines. I wonder why the MSM avoided mentioning human agency?

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 2, 2022 6:20 am

Because, as Michael Mann put it, it’s ‘helping the cause’.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
January 2, 2022 6:42 am

You ask a very interesting question about the left. If it fits the narrative in their head they have no problems publishing fake news.

Steven Curtis Lohr
January 2, 2022 7:00 am

Dry downslope winds have been happening on the Front Range for as long as those mountains have existed to our west. Whatever jackass “science” that says this is something new needs to be taken out in the back yard and shot. Having witnessed this fire, and everyone here who saw it, knows that if the ignition had happened 24 hours later there would be no disaster and that is a fact. I have 8 inches of snow on the ground just north of the burn. Winds like we saw on Friday are, and always have been part of this landscape. I have seen them quite literally blow down houses, barns, etc. That morning I was reluctant to drive under our big cottonwood trees because limbs were being blasted out of them. What should be the most sobering thing about this fire is that it was ENTIRELY unstoppable because of the wind, and the only thing that could stop it was a change in the WEATHER. The destruction has to do with the impossible circumstances created by closely built homes that are exposed to wildlands on a landscape that always generates high speed and drying winds. Welcome to the West.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Steven Curtis Lohr
January 2, 2022 12:16 pm

Winds like that can dry out the plants in a matter of minutes.

Steven Curtis Lohr
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 2, 2022 7:26 pm

Yes, sir. Not to put too fine a point on it but at our altitude on clear days radiant heating of surfaces also dries vegetation quickly.

January 2, 2022 7:24 am

This particular fire was a grass fire, not something usually controllable by use of prescribed burns. This is not the human/forest interface we normally deal with, what they were doing in the 2012 disaster. (We were forced to do an emergency trip home from Phoenix that year, as we were in pre-evac. We nor not near Boulder County, but fires are like the Willie Nelson song, You (Are) Always On My Mind.) Superior and Lafayette are mostly unforested lands below the foothills. Wind gusts up to 115 mph coming off the Rocky Mountain Front (heralding arrival of a major winter storm) are beyond human control.

Interestingly, as I read today, investigators did not find a downed power pole at the source of the blaze.

Reply to  Mark Tokarski
January 2, 2022 6:35 pm

controlled burns have been done for a long time to prevent grass fires.

January 2, 2022 7:24 am

One of the local meteorologist’s, Mike Nelson spend a few minutes on a tirade about how this fire was 100% climate change making our dry climate even drier. And all I could think of was the Chinook winds and the fact most if not all of the Denver Front Range site in a mountain rain shadow. Everything thing he could and should have said, he didn’t.
Unless we get an upslope situation with warm humid air from the Gulf and a cold front from the north, it is very unlikely we’ll get a high precipitation storm.
In an area where 35 – 40 degree temperature changes in a day, no major body of water to regulate daily weather patterns, 12 – 15 inches of precipitation in a year, and a 110 – 120 degree range through a year, it’s hard if not impossible to attribute a lack of moisture to anything but topology and location.

January 2, 2022 8:30 am

If only they knew that firewood grows on trees. This simple fact is tragically lost on so many.

January 2, 2022 8:49 am

Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.

This is the “expert” who gave his opinion that climate change is weather, which now becomes fact, according to NBC.

Bob Keith
January 2, 2022 8:55 am

Yep, social media and local news media in Denver have ran with the climate change narrative, people that have absolutely NO clue about the fire environment. First, the area that burned does not carry a continuous snow cover this time of year. It snows and melts, leaving dead 1-hr fuels exposed, even during the worst winters along the Front Range. Additionally, strong winds are common ahead of strong cold fronts. This area that burned is especially exposed to wind. Also, dead 1-hr fuels are abundant this time of year. These grasses respond quickly to changes in humidity and can burn easily this time of year. Importantly, live fuel moistures are naturally at their lowest points this time of year (Dormant) So why didn’t this area see this type of fire 30 years ago? 20 years ago? 50 Years ago? It comes down to one of the most important ingredients to have a fire, IGNITION!!! Human ignition has significantly increased along Front Range and across the stare of Colorado during the past 30 years. All fires that occur this time of year are a result of Humans. Without the ignition, it was another dry and windy day along the Front Range high desert ahead of a Cold Front!!!!!

January 2, 2022 9:37 am

Those burns would have been in national forests – not State. Not affected by any moratorium placed by Colorado.

January 2, 2022 9:44 am

What I’ve thus far only read Tony Heller mention is that the fuel burden on the grasslands where this appears to have started was higher than normal, due to last year’s extremely high snowfall in the Boulder area.

As to the zoning and structure spacing, well, Colorado is building ultra-dense communities like this all the way from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins.

Bill Rocks
Reply to  roaddog
January 2, 2022 10:51 am


Reply to  roaddog
January 2, 2022 6:38 pm

Maybe that is a good reason for extensive depopulation?

Reply to  AndyHce
January 2, 2022 8:14 pm

Kill, Covid, Kill.

January 2, 2022 10:02 am

Definitely caused by weather, not climate change. Until you can plot a long term trend of increase in droughts and high winds attributed to the minuscule warming, it is weather, not climate related.

However, this post is a bit off target with the prescribed burn ban. I can’t think of anywhere within this fire that a prescribed burn would or could have been conducted. I lived near Conifer, where the prescribed burn mentioned got out of control. That is a totally different setting, mountain pine forest, not a suburban grassland interface. I agree, the prescribed burns should continue, they just could not have prevented this one. Mowing, fire breaks, building codes changes are what is needed east of the front range.

Reply to  Doug
January 2, 2022 12:09 pm

 Mowing, fire breaks, building codes changes “
Only thing I can add to that is to always have a plowed / cultivated bare dirt strip upwind of every housing development; every year. Make it part of the municipal plan and works schedule;
Oh right; that comes under “fire breaks”. which just do not look as nice as wind-waved prairie grass. Then with chinook winds, the strip would have to be almost half a mile wide…….

Bob Keith
January 2, 2022 10:26 am

Peshtigo Fire that occurred in Wisconsin on October 8, 1871 that burned 1.2 million acres and killed over 1200 people. Climate Change? Or just another example of human ignition at the wrong time.

January 2, 2022 10:32 am

The way they’re acting, it almost appears that they WANT more of this.

Tom Abbott
January 2, 2022 12:00 pm

105mph winds. That ought to tell you all you need to know.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 2, 2022 1:38 pm

I wonder how the battery cars fared, surely there was at least one in the area.

Reply to  Carlo, Monte
January 3, 2022 12:20 pm

That is exactly my question, with one Tesla service center in that burn area.

January 2, 2022 4:38 pm

Once upon a time I lived in Colorado. I lost many fences to the strong winds. 4X4s were snapped like toothpicks.

January 3, 2022 1:39 am

The truth is there could be a link to the Arctic and the California wildfires if any of the arsonists originated from the Arctic area!

“Over the past two months, three people suspected of arson in Northern California have been considered responsible for fires that burned thousands of acres and destroyed more than 200 homes and businesses.”

January 3, 2022 12:15 pm

When was their last controlled burn there?

Clyde X
January 4, 2022 12:39 pm

We have forests in Kentucky. The Daniel Boone National Forest is nearly one-million acres. We also have the occasional forest fire in Kentucky. What we don’t have is out of control wild fires that rage on for weeks (months) at a time. Want to know why? Because we know how to manage forests. And, we have enough sense to keep the wacko environmentalists from setting policy that almost guarantees that any forest fire will grow into an out of control wild fire.

Last edited 1 year ago by Clyde X
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