The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Colorado Wildfire

Jan 3, 2022

The news media have been filled with pictures of the terrible destruction caused by a wildfire in Boulder County, Colorado. The fire was not in a forest but was a suburban and urban fire. It destroyed between 500 and 1000 houses, a shopping complex, and a hotel in the towns of Louisville and Superior in just a few hours. So far, there have been no confirmed deaths from the fire.

The fire was fanned by wind gusts blowing as fast as 110 miles per hour. Sparks and embers from the fire easily jumped over highways and roads. Some burned-out houses sat next to ones with little or no fire damage, depending on where the sparks and embers landed. Power lines were down in many areas.

It’s clear that climate change played a key role in this wildfire. Winter wildfires do not usually occur in Boulder County and other similar areas. But Colorado has experienced a severe drought for the last six months. Boulder got only an inch of snow in the last three months, rather than normally around 30 inches during this time of year. Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought.

A climate scientist at the University of California Los Angeles and the non-profit Nature Conservancy says that while wind gusts cannot be definitely attributed to climate change, climate change was definitely the reason the ground was so dry, allowing the fire to take off. He says other areas may also experience extensions of their normal wildfire seasons.

“Climate change is clearly making the pre-conditions for wildfires worse across most fire-prone regions of the world,” he said.