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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published June 20 2013

Weather Talk: Colorado forest fires worst as far as property damage

Headlines about the Colorado forest fires being the worst in history are not incorrect, but may be misleading. The fires this summer, and the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs in particular, have caused more property damage than any fire in Colorado history. But to call the fire the worst in history gives the impression that there has never been a fire like this in Colorado before, which is not true.

Big fires in the Rockies are cyclical; related to the weather. The cycle of fires waxes and wanes over decades and over hundreds of years as the climate goes through changes.

A bark beetle infestation has greatly worsened the problem by killing millions of trees. And while it is possible that ongoing human-caused climate change is making drought (and fires) more common, the biggest difference in this cycle is the presence of hundreds and hundreds of million-dollar homes built into the forested mountains where fires happen.

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