When we hear the terms “state of emergency” and “wildfires” used in a casual conversation, we often think of the West Coast. However, the end of 2021 brought a dangerous surprise, with roaring flames ripping through the lush forests of Colorado.
On Thursday, massive fires desecrated nearly 600 homes and forced inhabitants to flee at a moment’s notice. Recent reports revealed that upwards of 30,000 individuals were advised to leave the area, and six individuals were sent to nearby hospitals with injuries of varying degrees.
Wind Gusts: An Dangerous Variable
What made this wildfire turn deadly in the blink of an eye came from the excessive wind gusts throughout the Rockies. In the winter season, Colorado’s forests turn dry with little to no moisture in the air.
With these two variables in place, an unassuming ember forms into a blazing inferno in minutes, threatening wild- and human-life alike. And with reports of 105-mile-per-hour wind gusts howling through the region, the oxygen-enriched atmosphere provided the fuel for this fiery catastrophe to grow to an impressive size.
What Experts Have to Say About the Wildfire
Joe Pelle, the sheriff in Boulder County, claims the fires won’t subside any time soon. With the excessive wind present in the area, it’s a matter of containing the flames from spreading, not putting the blaze out entirely.
“The end won’t come until the wind subsides,” Pelle reported to local investigators and reporters.
He later exclaimed that local firefighters are surrounding the perimeter of the affected zone rather than fighting the flames head-on. With chaotic winds and unpredictable burning lanes, it’s difficult for these professionals to gauge the fire’s direction.
Potential Damage and Predictions
With the unpredictable nature of this wildfire, it comes as no surprise that more homes have been destroyed during this incident than any other wildfire in Colorado’s history.
Local residence dealt with a similar fire back in 2013, when a wildfire, nicknamed the Black Forest Fire, began near Highway 83 and Shoup Road. While this fire claimed two lives and scorched over 14,000 acres, the wildfire on Friday, December 30, is looking to wreak more havoc than the Black Forest Fire.
The majority of damage from this inferno has been contained to areas between Denver and Boulder. Unfortunately, this location is where students and faculty members from the University of Colorado call home during academic months. Moreover, residents from Avista Adventist hospital had to relocate into new facilities for fear of being overcome by the raging fire.
However, locals can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that recent forecasts show snow heading their way. Meteorologists in the area predict an impressive snowstorm moving into the affected region by Friday evening, with 5 to 10 inches of snowfall in store.
With the influx of snow in the fiery regions, officials believe the wildfire will reduce into a small, manageable blaze. Once contained, local populations can resume life as usual and gain control of their daily lives and routines.