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Southwest Colorado Wildfire Conditions Similar To 2018 When 416 Fire Started

(CBS4)- Conditions in Southwest Colorado are hot and dry, perfect for wildfires. Fuel is readily available. And that's not good.

fire danger map 6.8.20
(credit: CBS)

"Below average snowpack, warmer than average temperatures... wind events," said Tim Mathewson, Fire Meteorologist with the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.

The conditions for fire danger are similar to that of 2018, the same year the historic 416 Fire sparked outside Durango. The fire started on June 1, 2018, and burned actively for approximately 61 days. Approximately 54,000 acres were burned, mostly on lands in the San Juan National Forest.

416 fire
(credit: inciweb.nwcg.gov)

"We're forecasting for not only Colorado but Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas," said Mathewson.

Right now, he's keeping an eye on one area in particular, "Obviously the area that stands out is Southwest Colorado in terms of snow, water equivalency and snowpack."

LINK: Wildfire Information and Fire Restrictions

The Spring snowpack was low, which means it impacts Summer runoff.

"Ah, that did not happen and it's very similar to what we saw in 2018, with conditions leading up to the 416 Fire," said Mathewson.

SOUTHWEST WILDFIRE PKG .transfer_frame_387
(credit: CBS)

He said other conditions line up with other significant fire years as well. While Central and Northern Colorado have a better snowpack, fuel like brush are plentiful and dry.

"Those are drying out earlier than average and those will be readily available to turn.

For the San Juan region, "We may have to wait for the southwest monsoon to develop to get more long-term relief and that won't be until early July.

SOUTHWEST WILDFIRE PKG .transfer_frame_716
(credit: CBS)

Fire officials want people to be aware of the high fire danger before heading to the Durango area.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com's Colorado Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile), the deadliest (Storm King) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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