Click the link to read the article on the Colorado Public Radio webisite (Shanna Lewis). Here’s an excerpt:
The Waldo Canyon fire started in the mountains west of Colorado Springs ten years ago on June 23. Smoke was actually first reported on June 22, 2012 but it wasn’t located until the next day. Just days later it roared into the city, killing two people and destroying hundreds of homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. It also burned the Flying W Ranch.
Tony Cheng leads the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute and the Southern Rockies Fire Science Exchange Network at Colorado State University-Fort Collins. He visited the area with KRCC’s Shanna Lewis and reflected on the significance of the Waldo Canyon fire for Colorado.
Here’s an excerpt from their conversation, which has been edited for clarity.
Shanna Lewis: How does the Waldo Canyon fire fit into the historical context of wildfires in Colorado?
Tony Cheng: Wildfires in Colorado have always been around. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we had an event like Waldo. What was unique about Waldo was how it got into the suburban communities of Colorado Springs and transformed from a wildland fire into an urban conflagration. We really had never seen that in Colorado, nothing that really was of the magnitude of destruction.
Now, we’ve seen similar kinds of transitions from wildland fire into urban fire in places like California, but when it happened here, I think it was a real wake up call, especially at that time.
The other thing (is) that Waldo Canyon came on the heels of other fires, such as the Hayman fire in 2002, that burned almost 138,000 acres. There was definitely some loss of homes and structures, but not of the magnitude of Waldo. Subsequent to that, we’ve seen more and more of these fires that transitioned from a wildland fire into an urban conflagration.