WESTERN UNITED STATES – In Colorado, the 2020 wildfire season will be remembered for the size of its fires. Prior to 2020, the largest wildfire in the state’s history consumed 137,000 acres. This year, three fires already have blazed through more than 400,000 acres. Fires that burn more than 100,000 acres are designated “megafires.”
The Cameron Creek megafire, which has been burning since mid-August, is Colorado’s largest at 208,913 acres. Currently 97-percent contained, the fire grew so huge at one point that it burned over the Rocky Mountains and caused the closure of Rocky Mountain National Park, which remains closed. The burn area is east of Fort Collins, Colorado, in Larimer County.
The East Troublesome fire, burning just south of the Cameron Peak fire, has damaged more than 193,000 acres and is currently 92-percent contained. The difficulty of the terrain in both fires has made fighting the fires difficult. East Troublesome, like Cameron Peak, burned over the Rocky Mountains. It started in mid-October and the cause is unknown.
Fortunately, the first blasts of winter weather across the Rockies that arrived last week have helped to tamp down the embers.
Despite acreage burned, because the fires were in remote areas, Colorado cannabis farmers have not been affected by actual fire damage, property loss, or evacuations. However, concerns for smoke and ash damage became a reality for some outdoor growers. For Coloradans, the 2020 fire season is evidence of the effects of climate change, foretelling a fiery future.
One thing is clear: historic-sized fires are happening more frequently in the drought-stricken Western United States, where bark beetles have ravaged forests and some areas haven’t burned in generations.
In California, the August Complex fire, which still is not fully contained, has been designated a “gigafire,” which means more than one