A Look at 2012 Wildfires in the West
FIRE SEASON SO FAR: This year's drought, low snowpack and warm temperatures are expected to make for a busy wildfire season in much of the West. Colorado's season started in March, the driest March on record in Denver. Three people died in a wildfire that damaged or destroyed 23 homes in the foothills southwest of Denver. It was sparked by embers from a controlled burn by the state forest service. Earlier that month, a wildfire on the state's Eastern Plains burned more than 84 square miles, causing a half-million dollars' worth of damage and seriously injured a firefighter.
DROUGHT CONDITIONS: Snowfall in Colorado's mountains - the main source of its water supply- is down dramatically this year. Statewide, the amount of snow currently is just 11 percent of average. Roads closed for the winter have opened earlier than normal and some ski resorts closed early. It has been one of the least snowy years on record across the continental U.S.
CURRENT DANGER: The National Weather Service says the chance of new fires starting and spreading is high across the Southwest because of expected strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures.
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