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Fire danger elevated due to prolonged heat, dry conditions

DENVER — Friday, Sept. 2, 2011 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and State Forester Jeff Jahnke today urged the public to take extra precautions to prevent wildfires over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

 

A combination of prolonged hot weather (Colorado just experienced the hottest August on state record), drying fuels and potential windy conditions over parts of Colorado for the next several days have fire forecasters expecting high fire danger in several parts of the state. Northwest Colorado is under the highest threat for large fire risk, especially over the next few days.

 

National Predictive Services expects the risk for large fires to be highest on the Western Slope over the weekend, particularly today through Saturday.

 

“Coloradans and visitors to our state should be concerned with fire danger right now and take extra steps to prevent human-caused wildfires,” Hickenlooper said.

 

A small gust of wind at the right moment, a discarded cigarette from a car window, or dry grass that comes in contact with a hot lawn mower, chain saw or car muffler can lead to destructive wildfires.

 

“Fire forecasters are expecting high fire danger in parts of the state heading into the holiday weekend,” said Jeff Jahnke, state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service. “The threat is higher now due to a combination of prolonged hot weather, low relative humidity levels, dry grasses and other fine fuels, and unstable air masses over parts of Colorado for the next several days.”

 

Jahnke said that anyone planning to be outside this weekend should be aware of the risks to avoid starting a wildfire. “Whether you’re planning to go hiking or camping, ride an ATV or simply mow dead grass on your own property, please be very careful to avoid accidentally starting a wildfire,” he said.

 

Hickenlooper and Jahnke encourage everyone to enjoy the Labor Day weekend while being vigilant about protecting Colorado’s natural resources.

 

“The Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County, which started on Labor Day last year, is a haunting reminder of the impacts wildfires can have on our natural resources and communities,” Hickenlooper said. “We hope everyone will join us in doing everything they can to avoid a similar scenario this holiday weekend.”

 

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