Could Midwest wildfires headline Spring?

Montana battles fires while Colorado, Midwest states see higher risk

March 29, 2015

The National Interagency Fire Center's April predictions for Wildfires suggests a higher than normal risk for the Midwest and above normal threats in southern Alaska and Hawaii.
Credit: NIFC

Residents near Red Lodge, Montana, were told they could return home Sunday even as firefighters battled wildfires in nearby mountains. Local officials estimated about 500 people, including those at the Red Lodge Mountain Resort, had been evacuated.

The fire had begun on privately owned open land but was driven by winds that gusted to nearly 50 mph Saturday afternoon. By Sunday morning the fire had grown to 700 acres but was no longer threatening the ski area. No structures were reported damaged although the fire had come close to many homes.

In Colorado, residents have been basking in above normal temperatures, but below normal rainfall. The combination has prompted Red Flag Warnings in the Fort Collins region.

"People just need to be very cautious, William Nelson, of the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. "Even a farmer in their backyard welding something could start a fire."

Warning that with the right conditions of heat and wind, a small fire can quickly become an out of control big fire, Boyd Lebeda, of Colorado State Forest Service, said the wind is the most critical. "The other things, like dry fuels, play a role ... But they're all subject to the wind."

Wildfires were also reported this weekend in Wyoming and New Mexico.

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