Firefighters and BLM officials are gearing up for a busy fire season. They say it's all because of changes in the weather.
Bill Hahnenberg is the fire management officer for the BLM and he's already working hard to prepare for this years fire season. "As we speak we have prescribed burns going on," says Hahnenberg. There's more work to be done this year. It's all because of a wetter summer last year and lower fire seasons for the past two years. "Consequently the lighter fuel build–up under our timber canopy is pretty heavy," says Hahnenberg.
On top of the higher fuel amounts, The Rocky Mountain Area Fire Season Outlook was released this week and is predicting an "above" average fire season for the northern Western Slope. "We may have to look again at fire restrictions the end of June," says Hahnenberg.
El Nino has been affecting our weather for a little over a year now, from a wetter summer a year ago to lower snowpack this past winter
and now, as it weakens, it will affect summertime temperatures. "We are predicting higher than normal temperatures across all of western Colorado and eastern Utah," says Chris Cuoco of the National Weather Service. This predicted heat up along with the changes over the past year,have all been considered when issuing the fire season outlook. "Snowpack tells us in the north we could have a more active fire season, the temperature trend says that as well," says Cuoco.
It can also affect the monsoon season, delaying some much needed late summer rain. Either way, all these factors mean some summertime changes. "The biggest thing will be open burning campfires and open burning of that sort and fireworks," says Hahnenberg. They'll also be preparing some back–up, if needed. "We have access to heavy tankers, smoke jumpers, single engine air tankers, we now have a large helicopter based in rifle and a small engine helicopter," says Hahnenberg.
All in the hopes of winning the wildfire battle, before it spreads to your neighborhood.