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Video: Wildfires Take Root in Longer Seasons and Higher Temperatures

Wildfire season is lengthening, and Colorado as well as other states are seeing more intense and larger conflagrations.
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“It was like a nightmare, the whole evening,” says Chief Bill McLaughlin of the Elk Creek Fire Department in Colorado, in the below video. “My only thought was, ‘If we get through this day and everybody’s alive, it will be as good as it gets.’ ”

He is speaking of the Lower North Fork Wildfire of 2012 in Colorado.

“It was definitely the worst night of my life.”

March used to be snowiest month of the year, he notes. “But this year there was no snow at all.”

With fuels starting to grow earlier in the season, the window for wildfires is larger. The fire season is getting longer.

“It’s a different world,” says McLaughlin. “We’re starting to get to be like California, where fire season is year-round.”

It is just one more example of how climate change is affecting lives on the ground, here and now, as outlined in the Wildfires chapter of the National Climate Assessment released by President Barack Obama in 2014.

“Climate change is very real,” McLaughlin says. “It’s changed my entire life.”