Dry and gusty conditions keeping fire danger high across Denver Metro area

High fire danger expected through Monday
Posted at 10:51 AM, Mar 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-06 17:08:13-05

BOULDER, Colo. -- Strong winds and high fire danger are expected Monday. Winds gusts of up to 70 mph are possible in some areas. A high wind warning is in effect until 8 p.m.

The National Weather Service says strong winds will lead to areas of blowing dust with reduced visibility. Minor property damage and scattered power outages are also possible. 

The powerful winds have caused slight delays at Denver International Airport. A spokesperson for DIA said the airport was on a ground delay program, which means some flights were experiencing delays averaging about one hour.

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Strong winds toppled a power pole in Cherry Creek North Monday morning. Police say the winds plus the weight of three transformers were too much for a rotting power pole as it came crashing down on top of a parked Ford F-150. The truck’s front-end was heavily damaged. No one was injured. A building next to the pole lost power.

Crews were battling a 1,000-acre brush fire burning east of E-470 Monday morning. Strong winds helped spur the flames as it inched closer to a nearby landfill, which was evacuated as a precaution. No structures were threatened. The fire was fully contained around 1 p.m. Investigators are looking into the cause of the fire.

In the Denver Metro Area, March is known to be the snowiest month of the year.  But National Weather Service Senior Forecaster, Dave Barjenbruch, said that may not come to fruition.

"It looks like there's more dry weather coming for the next couple weeks," he said.

Per the NWS, rapid fire spread and dangerous wildland fire behavior are likely if a fire starts in the Front Range foothills or the plains of northeast Colorado.

The strong and gusty winds, low relative humidity, above average temperatures and dry fuels are expected to contribute to the hazardous fire behavior.

It was that same wind that drove Saturday’s Cattleman fire, just north of Wellington.

Wellington Fire officials reported the Cattleman fire was 100 percent contained Saturday night. The fire burned 2,000 acres.

To the south, Conifer fire officials said the 2.2-acre fire along South Wamblee Valley Road was fully contained on Saturday evening.

Denver7 crews spoke with West Metro Fire's Steve Aseltine about how wind can change the behavior of fires.

"It can move the fire much quicker. It can increase the intensity. It can take the fire in directions that topographically it wouldn't normally travel, or push fire to places we wouldn't expect it to go," said Aseltine.

Remember, open burning is prohibited on Red Flag Warning days.

The NWS is reminding people living across all of northeast Colorado to prepare for these critical fire weather conditions.

"It's probably going to take at least a month here to get things green -- if we get some springtime precipitation- which we desperately need here in the next couple of weeks," Barjenbruch said.


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