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As Wildfires Rage, 'A Helpless Feeling'

Wed, June 13, 2012 4:05pm

Story by Mark Memmott


Near Laporte, Colo., earlier this week, smoke billowed from the mountains. In the foreground: A helicopter was dumping water on a hotspot.

There are now at least 19 large wildfires burning in nine Western states U.S. Forest Service officials say.

And it's "a helpless feeling" when you're home is in the path of such an inferno, Jeff Corum of Larimer County, Colo., tells The Denver Post. He fled his house early Sunday as "nearby flames were shooting about 50-feet high into the night sky," the Post reports.

Corum would, however, rebuild if his home is gone. "In a heartbeat," he says. "It's paradise up there."

According to the federal government's interagency InciWeb, the High Park Fire about 15 mines west of Fort Collins, Colo., has burned more than 46,000 acres and is only 10 percent contained.

In New Mexico, the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire east of Glenwood has covered more than 280,000 acres and is 51 percent contained. Also in New Mexico, the Little Bear fire in the White Mountain Wilderness has covered nearly 38,000 acres and is 35 percent contained.

Other western states where fires are blazing: California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming.

As The Associated Press reports, "firefighters throughout the West are coping with drought, stands of trees killed by bark beetles, more residents in forested areas and a decades-old buildup of fuel — the legacy of quickly stamping out fires."

In the Rocky Mountain State, our colleagues at KUNC say, "fire crews are up against a troubling forecast today of more hot temperatures and gusty winds."

The outlook is for more of the same in coming years, according to researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, who warn that "climate change is widely expected to disrupt future fire patterns around the world, with some regions, such as the western United States, seeing more frequent fires within the next 30 years."

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