Colorado expects average or below-average fires

DENVER - Wildland firefighters expect an average to below-average fire season in Colorado this year.

Michael Morgan, the state's top wildfire-fighting officer, said Friday that abundant snow in the mountains helps reduce the risk.

But most of the eastern plains have been in a drought or near-drought conditions since mid-October. Last month, a wildfire in northeastern Colorado blackened 50 square miles and killed 200 cattle.

Morgan says an average season in Colorado is about 45 wildfires burning a total of 160 square miles (415 square kilometers).

Morgan and Gov. John Hickenlooper say the state has a goal of reducing the number of fires by 10 percent by 2019.

Morgan says only about 7 percent of the state's 2016 wildfires had natural causes. The rest were started by debris fires, campfires, prescribed burns, arson, mechanical failures or other causes.

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