Wildfires in Winter Are a Climate Change Event

I’ve lived on the Front Range of Colorado my entire life. I was born and raised here, something few people can say these days, as more and more people are moving to the area. According to the last census, more than 750,000 new people have joined the population of Colorado in the past decade.

Most of these people, seeking cheaper rent or mortgage prices, move into small suburban communities in and around Denver & Boulder — just as my parents did thirty-five years ago when they arrived, looking to start a family, and found themselves unable to afford their desired location of Boulder.

Boulder, for those unaware, maintains strict rules on new development — a controversial policy which has caused home values to skyrocket, but priced many, if not most, people out of the housing market. Even renting here, prices are high and most people live with roommates. Denver is not as restricted, but the housing demand still far outstrips the supply, especially for those with lower incomes.

For decades, developers have been falling over themselves to build new subdivisions and dense apartments in nearby commuter towns like Superior, Louisville, Lafayette, and Erie.

Three days ago, on December 30, 2021, a once-in-100-years type of fire sparked just outside of Boulder. Spurred on by record-setting winds which blew all day long (gusts up to 100 mph were measured), the fire quickly spread through the grasslands outside of Boulder and into the towns of Superior & Louisville, where fueled by the strong and unrelenting winds it consumed several subdivisions. Neighborhoods *just* like the one I grew up in, burnt back to nothing.

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