‘Epic’ Fire Forces Tens of Thousands to Flee in Colorado

Cross-posted from CommonDreams

Predictions of more frequent and intense fires fueled by climate change contained in recent study

– Common Dreams staff

A record-breaking heat wave in Colorado has generated what one local fire chief called a ‘firestorm of epic proportions’ and forced approximately 32,000 people to flee their homes near the town of Colorado Springs.

Fire from the Waldo Canyon wildfire burns as it moved into subdivisions and destroyed homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 26, 2012. (AP)Gov. John Hickenlooper, who surveyed the Waldo Canyon Fire, told reporters late Tuesday the damage to property was extensive. “There were people’s home’s burned to the ground. It was surreal,” he said. “There’s no question, it’s serious. It’s as serious as it gets.”

What the nation is now seeing is “a super-heated spike on top of a decades long warming trend,” Derek Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center, told the Associated Press.

Six other wildfires were active in the state, while other large fires continue across the west in Wyoming, Montana, and New Mexico.

A recently released study in the journal Ecosphere suggests that forest fires are likely to become more frequent due to the severe impacts of climate change.  According to ananalysis of the report, most of North America and Europe are expected to see increased frequency of fires with western US states seeing a particularly sharp rise.

“We’ve set ourselves up for some pretty tough situations already, but I think climate change is really going to force us to deal with fire-prone landscapes in a substantial way,” Max A. Moritz, a professor at UC Berkeley and the study’s lead author, told  the Bay Citizen.

“Where and how we build in those higher risk areas, I think that’s something we have to take into consideration … especially as we know there will be significant disruptions to fire activity because of climate change,” he said

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