Gov. Jared Polis warned Coloradans to not become complacent this summer despite predictions of an average to below-average wildfire season.
"I don't want this average risk to lull people into a false sense of security," Polis said Tuesday at the AeroColorado hangar at Centennial Airport southeast of Denver.
Meteorologists are forecasting below-average potential for large fires from May through July for the bulk of Colorado, according to an outlook published by the Bureau of Land Management on April 26. Contributing to the conditions are Colorado's third largest snowpack since 1992 — about 130 percent of median — as well as predictions of below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation in the short and long term.
About this time last year, the state snowpack sat at about 57 percent of median and ushered in five of the 20 largest wildfires in Colorado's recent history, including the 108,045-acre Spring Creek fire in La Veta, the 54,129-acre 416 fire near Durango and the 42,795-acre MM 117 fire in southern El Paso County.
Even with the favorable conditions, the state expects to respond to about 600 fires across 100,000 acres this year, said Division of Fire Prevention and Control Director Mike Morgan.
"We still need to be vigilant and minimize risk," he said.