Scientist says climate change worsened Colorado fire

The destruction from a rare winter wildfire that ravaged towns in Colorado is believed by scientists to have been made worse by climate change.

Paul Bassis lives in Louisville, one of the towns destroyed by the Marshall Fire.

His house was luckily spared, but he sounded a warning after the disaster.

"Climate change is here now. This is not some future threat that we have to deal with at some point some day, but this is here and now."

Scientist Natasha Stavros studies mega fires at University of Colorado, Boulder.

She told Reuters the fire drew its destructive might from a changing climate, which helped dry out the grassland that fueled the flames.

"This kind of event that happens in December with a lot of rain to increase fuels early in the year and then no rain later in the year that dries them out is very much associated with climate change."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded an extra wet May and July in the county last year, which allowed more grass to grow.

But rainfall dropped dramatically in the following months, the warmest fall on record amid a severe drought.

All that grass dried up and became highly combustible tinder.

Stavros also warns that urban expansion could mean more wildfires that threaten mass evacuations.

"We've only just begun to see them. We've started to see it in Oregon, California, now Colorado. And so as we continue to develop out into the wildlands, we have to really think about how we're doing that development - both in how we provide energy, the kind of wind we would expect - and also how we're using that land and maintaining that land around those urban areas, and what ignition sources we're bringing with us."

"It is a crisis."

Boulder authorities say detectives are still investigating the cause of the Marshall fire, which burned through six thousand acres in a matter of hours.

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