The Marshall Fire could be called a wake-up call for Colorado and every homeowner and business in Colorado. It appears that we no longer have a predictable fire season — we now live in a fire-prone, drought-impacted environment in which at any time, everything we hold dear could go up in smoke.
The shocking Dec. 30 fire on the Front Range, fed by tinder-dry fuel and propelled by hurricane-force winds, destroyed some 991 structures and damaged another 127, making it the most destructive fire in Colorado history. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office reports that one person is confirmed dead, another is still missing, and some neighborhoods, like Superior’s Sagamore subdivision, were entirely burned away.
Until now, most Front Range communities thought they were immune from the kind of fires that have ravaged mountain communities, like last years’ East Troublesome fire. Now they know better.
Here in Chaffee County, we’ve seen enough wildfires on our perimeters within this county in the past five years — the Hayman Fire, the Decker Fire, the Hayden Pass Fire — to not just be on the alert — but to act. The county, beginning with the Envision process and then by the passage of the Common Ground ballot question, followed by the formation of the Chaffee Wildfire Council, got a head start on what other counties are just beginning to realize. Active measures are overdue.
This early step might be ahead of other counties, but this may well be a race for survival — as the natural resources around us change before our eyes. We are faced with tough questions — and tough choices likely lie ahead.
As the article by new contributor Allen Best will lay out for you tomorrow morning, what happened a week ago in Boulder County may be our state’s future — as climate change and drought create the conditions for more ‘perfect storms’.
We hope you read Allen’s article tomorrow afternoon with both interest, and a commitment to face our climate-impacted future.