LONGMONT The unseasonably warm temperatures and dry conditions that have hiked the wildland fire danger across the state are increasing fire dangers in urban areas, said battalion chief Lynn Huff of the Longmont Fire Department.
Conditions right now are as bad as they were in July, Huff said.
Huff said a structure fire on the 3600 block of Sunflower Circle on Sunday afternoon illustrates the indiscriminately high fire danger.
He said the alert homeowner could have lost his house Sunday afternoon if he had not quickly noticed a discarded cigarette butt in a potted plant on his deck had ignited the plant and spread flames to the deck of the home. The man fought the blaze with a garden hose until firefighters arrived and knocked down the fire.
No one was hurt.
Huff said the fire was contained to the outside of the home, but it could have been a total loss if the owner hadnt quickly noticed the flames.
According to The Associated Press, a fire 160 miles south of Denver had burned 6,000 acres, destroyed five homes and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people to Aguilar, while 60 firefighters worked to fight the wind-fed fire Sunday.
Firefighters in Littleton were also chasing a fire that ignited several apartments.
The fire-danger forecast doesnt see much relief over the next few weeks, either.
According to the Rocky Mountain Area Predictive Services Colorado Fire Potential Outlook, the warm, dry and windy weather is going to continue to keep the fire danger high.
The fire communities should be particularly concerned about pre-frontal fire weather conditions that result in above average temperatures, low humidity, unstable atmospheric conditions and gusty winds, the 14-day outlook reported Jan. 4. These conditions would likely result in extreme fire behavior and hamper suppression efforts.
Huff said the dry conditions dont stop at wildland vegetation. He said fire fuel sources in urban areas are also dry and ready to burn. Huff noted the homeowner believed the cigarette was extinguished in the potted plant, but winds likely fanned an opportunistic ember that ignited a dry plant.
It is really very dry, and all of the vegetation that we have here now is just bone dry, Huff said.
The three-month outlook is similar for fire conditions.
The Jan. 4 outlook report suggests little change over the next few months.
Huff said people should be aware of the fire dangers and carefully to avoid doing anything that might ignite a blaze.
Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.