Fall and Winter Wildfires: It’s A Thing.

Be aware and prepare for the next one by maintaining your defensible space.

Man using weedwacker Native Edge Landscaping Boulder Colorado

As we leave the warmer days of summer behind and head into cooler Fall temperatures, the threat of wildfire might be one of the last things on your mind. However, recent history reminds us that devastating wildfires during the fall and early winter months are not uncommon. This article is intended to remind local residents to be aware and prepare for Fall-Winter fire danger.

Why is our area so prone to extreme wildfires?
Wildfires have always been a natural occurrence in Boulder County, but various land management practices, including fire suppression, over the last 100 years has resulted in a forest with vegetation densities 10 to 100 times their natural state. Combine this with factors such as steep terrain, drought, high summertime temperatures, and seasonal high winds, and an increased human presence in the form of development and recreational use,  the result is an environment prone to extreme wildfire behavior.

These very dangerous conditions have led to fires which are more numerous and devastating than ever before, challenging the abilities and resources of agencies that fight fire.

Additionally, the response to a fire by emergency response organizations faced with these conditions is also limited by factors such as the amount of equipment and personnel available, number and location of water sources, difficulty or ease of access, and number and types of structures present.

Notable Boulder County Wildfires Between the Months of September and January
Some notable fires that have occurred between the months of September and January include…

  • Nov 1990 – The Olde Stage Fire – 3,000 acres burned and 10 homes destroyed.
  • Oct 2003 – The Overland Fire  – 3,500 acres burned and 12 homes destroyed.
  • Jan 2009 –  2nd Olde Stage Fire – 3,008 acres burned.
  • Sept 2010 – The Fourmile Canyon Fire – 6,181 acres burned and 169 homes destroyed.
  • Oct 2020 – The Calwood Fire – 10,112 acres burned.  20 homes and 2 cabins destroyed.
  • Dec  2021 – The Marshall Fire – 6,026 acres burned. 1,084 homes destroyed. 
  • Dec  2022 – Sunshine Canyon Fire – 19 acres burned. 1 home destroyed.

These fires have collectively destroyed more than 1,200 homes (and other structures), burned over 20,000 acres, and threatened the lives and properties of thousands of residents in Boulder County’s foothills and urban areas to the East.  Yet, many people still don’t recognize the risk posed to their homes and properties by a wildfire and what they can do to mitigate that threat.

The 3 Most  Important Things You Can Do To Be Prepared

  1. Have an evacuation plan.  
  2. Create defensible space around your home.
  3. Maintain your defensible space with routine maintenance!

By doing wildfire mitigation work, creating defensible space, and performing routine maintenance around their homes, homeowners are giving firefighters and themselves the best chance to defend their property from wildfires.

Need a hand?
From removal of organic debris around your home’s foundation and auxiliary structures, to cutting down the tall grasses and ladder fuels a bit further out,  take a proactive approach this Fall and Winter by improving and maintaining your home’s defensible space. Learn more about how Native Edge Landscapes can help Maintain Your Defensible Space