Fire alarm ringing

This is worse than deja vu all over again.

It was only last year that a spate of blazes reaching from Fort Collins south to Waldo Canyon in Colorado Springs made it seem as though fire had done its worst in Colorado. It’s only June, however, and the Black Forest fire has claimed the dubious distinction of being the most destructive blaze in Colorado history.

Two lives are known to be lost and at least 360 homes are ashes. Last year, the Waldo Canyon fire claimed 346 residences.

It’s not as though the danger is limited to the Front Range.

Fire broke out on Thursday near Rifle and by Friday, officials said five blazes had been spotted in Dinosaur National Monument. Gov. John Hickenlooper declared the Big Meadows Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park a disaster emergency, allowing him to tap $15,000 to pay for a helicopter.

It might well be time for the state to find some money to put money behind an air force of tankers for the kinds of fires that are now the norm for Colorado.

People knowledgeable of the danger posed by overgrown forests and unkempt areas of what is known as the wildland-urban interface have long warned that such conflagrations were as inevitable as they would be costly. It turns out they were right.

In the meantime, though, we in western Colorado would do well to learn the lessons of the Black Forest blaze and clear defensible areas around homes and businesses, dig out overgrowth and brace for the worst — it’s just around the corner.


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