A Colorado fire chief faces extreme wildfires

Elk Creek Fire Chief Bill McLaughlin’s career has followed the spread of wildfires throughout the western United States. In 2012, his teams fought the Lower North Fork Fire in Colorado, an unusual early-season fire that kicked off the most destructive fire season in Colorado’s recorded history — until 2013 eclipsed that record.

According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment, higher average temperatures are drying out forest fuels, increasing the length of the fire season, reducing snow cover, and increasing the vulnerability of western forests to more wildfire. “Climate change is very real,” Chief McLaughlin says, “It’s changed my entire life.”

To explore the 2014 National Climate Assessment, go to NCA2014.globalchange.gov

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