No matter how thoughtful we are about land and forestry management, wildfires will always present a threat.
Wildfires are an unfortunate fact of life in Colorado. And as the past few seasons have demonstrated, the threat seems more likely to grow in years to come than it is to recede. As we reckon with this threat, we must do so with a clear understanding of the full scope facing our state.
The damage, disruption and distress caused by wildfires that can burn as many as 100,000 or even 200,000 acres at a time are difficult to overstate. Suppression costs alone ran over $200 million during last year’s particularly brutal wildfire season, and tens of thousands of Coloradans were displaced due to either evacuation or the loss of homes. Tragically, some even lost their lives.
No matter how thoughtful we are about land and forestry management, wildfires will always present a threat. As a fire chief of a rural volunteer fire department, I’m immensely proud of the dangerous but rewarding work Colorado’s fire crews do to keep our communities safe in the face of this reality. I’m also acutely aware of less obvious threats related to wildfires.