State maps indicate areas most at risk for wildfires

Forest Service created detailed maps
Posted at 9:36 PM, Jul 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-13 00:33:12-04

The hot, dry, windy weather conditions are prompting fire bans all across Colorado this week.

Experts with the Colorado State Forest Service have an extensive number of maps showing areas most susceptible to wildfires.

"This one shows how the housing density will be most impacted," said Rich Homann, cooperative fire program lead for CSFS.

Homann is one of Colorado's foremost fire experts.

"There's a common saying in the fire community - it's not if, it's when?" he said. "Wildland fires don't stop just because you have a city boundary there."

The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs four years ago taught us that.

"Who is most at risk?" asked Denver7 reporter Russell Haythorn.

"The farther you get inside the city limits, the less probability you have for a fire," said Homman.

While Homann didn't answer the question directly, the CSFS maps, tell the tale.

Homes on the western edge of the city of Boulder, for example, are at great risk. Counties at greatest risk because of fuels and housing density are Boulder, Jefferson, Larimer, El Paso and Grand counties.

Homann says some 'live' trees are actually more combustible if they are drought-stricken and carrying little water compared to dead trees.

"Standing, dry, skeletons of trees that don't have any needles left on them, they're a little bit less susceptible to catch on fire because they don't have the fine fuels," Homann said.

The CSFS maps combine 30 years of data - including vegetation, fuels on the ground, historic fire weather and historic occurrence of fire reported in a given area.

"We are certainly seeing a trend of more fires, and larger fires," Homann said.