News/Op-Ed: The Wildfires That Are Decimating Colorado And Impacting The Wellness Of Its Environment

by Andrew Fierro

Colorado has been going through three of the worst wildfires in the state’s history, damaging structures, more than 300 homes, and approximately $195 million dollars worth of damages.

Smoke mixed with blazes of fire drift through the trees and skies from the East Troublesome Wildfire making its way through the town of Granby on Thursday, Oct. 22.

The Colorado Fires started on August 13th and have continued to get worse due to the hot and dry weather. Although the cause of the actual fires is still unknown, it is currently being investigated by Colorado officials.

Last week state officials mentioned that the East Troublesome Fire was burning through a build-up of “beetle-killed” pine trees that were boosted due to the weather conditions.

These three wildfires are the three largest to date in the state’s history. The fires have taken place in areas where beetles have already been through. There is speculation and evidence that these beetles have been playing a role in accelerating the wildfires by leaving dead trees, which help contribute to the rapid spread of flames.

However, the real enemy of forests is the changing climate, which is likely the reason behind these devastating wildfires in the state of Colorado and elsewhere. 

Due to the hotter and drier climate, more beetle infestations are also contributing to the start and spread of wildfires. Without change, the problems will only become worse with wildfires like the ones seen in Colorado only being the first of more to come. 

In good news, the wildfires were not as active on Sunday with the Cameron Peak fire remaining at 208,663 acres and is now up to 64% contained, and the East Troublesome fire remaining at 193,774 acres and is now up to 37% contained. 

Due to the recent wet and snowy conditions, the firefighter’s lines are holding up even as winds increase. As the new-fallen snow melts, firefighters will now be allowed to move into areas that were inaccessible before and will be able to work in areas where the fire is still producing large amounts of heat and smoke. 

Wildfires in Colorado are not unique to just Colorado. This year, unfortunately, wildfire rates in other states and areas have picked up as well. California has been experiencing wildfires for the better half of 2020 due to the effects of climate change, Beetle infestation, and unremoved dead trees and brush have had on the environment.

More than half of the acres burned in the Western United States each year are attributed to climate change, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. There are also bigger and more dangerous wildfires adding to that number each year as dry weather has doubled in California since the 1980s. 

With the increasing effects of greenhouse gasses, California and other western states could see a rise of more than 78% in total area burned by 2050, unless measures are put in place to combat these problems. 

This issue has been a hot topic and debated largely in the past, but now it is becoming a real and dangerous threat to the world, and without action being taken, there will be major consequences.

The evidence is there that these wildfires are getting worse due to the change in the climate which is also due to the effects humans have had on the environment. Without measures being put in place to help combat these effects, these will only be the first of many more dangerous wildfires to come.

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