Boulder County has witnessed several major destructive wildfires in recent times. Notable are the 1989 The Black Tiger Fire, the 1990 and 2009 Olde Stage Fires, the 2003 Overland Fire, the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire, the 2016 Cold Springs Fire, and the 2020 Cal-Wood & Lefthand Canyon Fires.
These fires have collectively destroyed more than 260 homes (and other structures), burned an area of more than 16,000 acres, and threatened the lives and properties of thousands of mountain residents. Yet many people still don’t recognize the risk posed to their homes and properties by a wildfire and what they can do to mitigate that threat.
Wildfires have always been a natural occurrence in Boulder County, but various land management practices, including fire suppression, over the last 100 years have resulted in forests with vegetation densities 10 to 100 times their natural state. Combine this with factors such as steep terrain, drought, high summertime temperatures, seasonal high winds, and an increased human presence in the form of development and recreational use, and the result is an environment prone to extreme wildfire behavior.
These very dangerous conditions have lead to fires which are more numerous and devastating than ever before, challenging the abilities and resources of agencies that fight fire.
Additionally, the response to a fire by emergency response organizations faced with these conditions is also limited by factors such as the amount of equipment and personnel available, number and location of water sources, difficulty or ease of access, and number and types of structures present.
Mitigating Impacts of Devastating Wildfires
By doing wildfire mitigation work, creating defensible space, and performing routine maintenance around their homes, homeowners are giving firefighters and themselves the best chance to defend their property from wildfires.