Thursday 15 October 2020

Numerous evacuation orders in place as the Cameron Park Fire becomes the largest recorded wildfire in Colorado's history.

The Cameron Park Fire in Larimer County, Colorado, is now officially the largest wildfire in the state's history, covering an area of 158 300 Acres (640 km²), and being only 56% contained. The fire has now surpassed the Pine Gulch Fire of earlier this year, which was previously the largest in the Colorado's history; four of the largest five wildfire's have happened since 2010, with the fifth having occurred in 2002. The fire, which is believed to have started on 13 August 2020, has destroyed several properties in the area to the west of Fort Collins, but so far there have been no casualties reported due to prompt evecuations of areas in its path. So far this week evacuation orders have been issued for properties in Masonville, Drake, Glen Haven, Loveland, Lory State Park, Horsetooth Mountain Park, the Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, Overhill Drive, Rist Canyon, and Stratton Park.

The Cameron Park Fire on 30 September 2020. Adams County Fire and Rescue/Facebook/CBS Denver.

Brush fires are common events across much of the southern United States, where long dry periods are often accompanied by high winds, providing the fires with both fuel and the means to spread quickly. As with many other hot-weather related phenomena there is currently serious concern that such fires might become more common in a warming climate, particularly given the recent extreme fire events in Australia. Much of Colorado has been suffering an extreme drought this year, with 100% of the state currently being considered to be suffering either drought or abnormally dry conditions, and 17% to be suffering an 'exceptional drought', the most severe catagory recognised by the U.S. Drought Monitor. This continues a pattern of warming and drying weather in the area over the past 20 years, which local climatologists believe is strongly linked to rising global temperatures. In the past six weeks this has been combined with high winds across much of the state, perfect conditions for driving wildfires, with winds in upland areas of Larimer County reaching over 100 km per hour in the past few days, fanning the Cameron Park Fire and causing it to spread much more rapidly.

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