Ferocious wildfires in Colorado stoked by sizzling temperatures, gusting winds, and very dry vegetation have now destroyed dozens of homes. Thousands of residents have so far been evacuated. Yet more wildfires have been reported in New Mexico, Oregon, and California.
The wildfires have occurred at a time when the U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that almost 16 percent of Colorado is experiencing Exceptional drought conditions, which the highest rating. Over 26 percent of the state currently has an Extreme rating.
A 12-square mile wildfire in a forested residential area near Colorado Springs has reportedly destroyed over 90 homes, and damaged more. The fires that sparked in Colorado’s Front Range resulted in evacuations of residents over a 47 square mile area. This wave of fires are not far from last year’s devastation Waldo Canyon Fire that claimed hundreds of homes. Ash and smoke haze have also been drifting into Denver from the fires.
The Royal Gorge Fire has claimed 3 structures near Canon City, and a suspension bridge which has so far avoided damage has been used by firefighters to get at the fire. As a precautionary measure, over 900 prisoners were evacuated from a medium security prison to the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility because of smoke from the fire.
The National Weather Service has said that low humidity and temperatures in the high 90s, together with wind gusts of over 40 miles per hour, have caused very high to extreme fire danger in Colorado for much of the week.