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Staffing wildfires remains a challenge during winter months, firefighters say season is year-round

35 wildfires recorded in Boulder County in 36 days
Posted at 10:05 PM, Mar 10, 2017

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- Thirty-five wildfires were recorded in Boulder County from February 1 to March 8. Dry conditions, unseasonably warm temperatures and strong winds have contributed to an increased risk in wildfire danger.

During that same time period there were four red flag warning days and six days with high winds. Traditionally, wildfire season has been from May until October so this trend is especially concerning.

"[We've had] no precipitation so there’s no true end in sight of this," said Peter Koretz, a senior firefighter with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.

All the recent fires are also putting a strain on resources.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Fire Management Division is running winter staffing levels. Five full-time firefighters are on staff but that number doubles in May. In the meantime, they are relying on help from surrounding departments, many of them are volunteers.

"Our fire season is a year-round season and unfortunately our staffing and our funding nationally is not year-round," said Koretz.

The same is true nationwide, during the Wagonwheel Gap fire there weren't any hot shot crews available. Many of those crews are on lay off outside of the traditional fire season.

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